Astronaut visits university from aboard the International Space Station

Mar 7, 2018

In 2013, on a visit to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Scott Tingle was asked by a middle school student if he can really call himself an astronaut if he hadn’t been to space.

He can now confidently answer yes to that question, as the UMass Dartmouth grad is currently serving a four-month mission aboard the International Space Station to do research.

And he’s sharing his experience even before his mission is over through a special satellite downlink. On March 6, Tingle appeared live from aboard the International Space Station sporting a UMass Dartmouth t-shirt.

The 30 minute downlink involved 21 students, faculty, alumni and others who asked Tingle a host of questions about being in space, from what the food was like to advice for prospective astronauts.

Tingle’s mother Sheila Tingle surprised her son at the event when she asked him to show off his best microgravity trick - a flip he performed live, leaving the audience amazed.

Sheila Tingle said having the event at the college was exceptionally special to her son.

“This place has a special place in Scott’s heart and I know how hard he worked to get into the program that he did,” Sheila Tingle said. “This is where he always resorts to when he talks about his history.”

Samuel Ovalle was the youngest person to ask a question on behalf of UMass Dartmouth student Thomas Donahue. Ovalle, who wants to be an astronaut, was excited but also nervous to get on stage.

“It was kind of scary because I was thinking I was going to be on TV, but cool because I got to see someone on the ISS,” Ovalle said.

His third grade class at Alma Del Mar is currently learning about planets, and names Neptune as his favorite.

Also in attendance was Tingle’s former professor and mentor Ron DiPippo.

“To see him up there in the ISS it’s a great thrill,” DiPippo said.

He asked Tingle how it felt when he lifted off from Earth.

Sheila Tingle remembers her son decided to be an astronaut at age four after seeing Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. At 10, he had solidified the goal in his mind and when he got to college he lobbied teachers for the classes he knew would lead him on the path to space exploration.

Tingle graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1987, and continued his education at Purdue University. The college is known for turning out astronauts, and Scott Tingle had become the 23rd from the college.

Tingle left everyone with one bit of advice during the event: stay focused, work hard and you will reach your dreams.

“When you go out and you want to be successful you’re going to have to work hard,” Tingle said. “It doesn’t matter what discipline you’re in or where you go, you’re going to have to work hard.”

As the downlink ended audience members turned toward the camera and waved goodbye to Scott Tingle.

Tingle is expected to return home some time in April.