WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Purdue University will give a special honorary degree at its upcoming commencement on May 11th.
The recipient, however, will not be physically at the ceremony.
Purdue alumni and current NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel will connect live from space! Feustul will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree via live stream at the International Space Station. He will also address the graduates during the Friday evening commencement at the Elliott Hall of Music.
Ordinarily, a Purdue dean places the ceremonial hood on honorary degree recipients, but for obvious logistical reasons, an exception has been made in this case. Fellow Boilermaker and NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, who is also stationed on the ISS, will stand in and place the hood on Feustel.
“Purdue’s tradition has always required that honorary degree recipients be present at commencement but, given the mission Drew has undertaken on behalf of science and his fellow citizens, our Trustees felt an exception, in this case, is more than warranted,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “Plus, it will give our graduates an exceptionally fun and unique way to remember their special day.”
Feustel launched into space on March 21st. By the ceremony on May 11, he will have spent a total of 80 days in space, including 51 days in space on this, his third mission, and will have conducted seven spacewalks totaling 48 hours and 28 minutes of spacewalking time. His eighth spacewalk is planned for May 16. He is scheduled to return to Earth in October.
Purdue, known as the Cradle of Astronauts, has graduated 24 NASA astronauts, including the first and most recent people to walk on the moon, along with hundreds of others who work at NASA and in the space industry. More than one-third of all U.S. spaceflights with humans aboard have included at least one Boilermaker. By the end of 2018, Purdue astronauts will have spent the equivalent of more than 1,100 days in space.