Iowa Awarded NASA In-Flight Educational Downlink on Sept. 27

Youth across Iowa will ask questions to astronauts aboard the International Space Station

September 16, 2021, 1:45 pm | Valyn Bodensteiner, Sara Nelson

Updated 9/17/21: The downlink time has been updated.

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa Space Grant Consortium and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development have been awarded a NASA In-flight Education Downlink on Sept. 27. Tentatively scheduled for 11:10-11:30 a.m. CDT, a final downlink time will be confirmed on Sept. 23 and available at

Youth from across Iowa will ask prerecorded questions to the astronauts on the International Space Station, Expedition 65. Astronauts will listen to the videos in space and then respond live on NASA TV during the virtual event. This 2020 downlink shows what a virtual In-flight Education Downlink looks like.

The downlink will provide an extension of learning for participants in 4-H Astro Camps that were hosted across the state this summer.

“Astro Camps inspired youth to learn more about space and to consider a STEM profession,” said Sara Nelson, 4-H STEM program specialist and assistant director of education and outreach for the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. “The NASA downlink opportunity takes that momentum to the next level for those youth, who will get their questions answered by astronauts currently in space.”

Allison Wielenga.“I loved Astro Camp,” said Allison Wielenga, a student at Sioux Center Christian School, who will present the closing remarks during the In-flight Education Downlink. “It was a great opportunity to learn more about space and do fun activities. I am very excited and grateful to be part of the downlink!”

Youth who recorded questions include:

  • Abby Drost – Mahaska County.
  • Claire Hennessy – Harrison County.
  • Rana Janes – Hardin County.
  • Jordan Jemison – Polk County.
  • Evan Jensen – Madison County.
  • Grace Johnson – Polk County.
  • Mason Karl – Polk County.
  • Braeden Nelson – Polk County.
  • Michael Nie – Polk County.
  • Jasmine Nieves – Polk County.
  • Brennen Peterson – Dubuque County.
  • Brayden Peterson – Dubuque County.
  • Ella Speake – Story County.
  • David Speake – Story County.
  • Justine Weir – Polk County.
  • Baylee Weltzheimer – Sac County.
  • Allison Wielenga – Sioux County.
  • Carson Wilkins – Story County.
  • Danika Wilkins – Story County.
  • Ria Zhu – Scott County.

“I am very excited for the Iowa Downlink opportunity,” said Mason Karl, a student at Indian Hills Junior High. “I have always been intrigued with NASA and space in general and I want to be either an astronaut or an engineer that designs and builds rockets for NASA. I have always loved learning about things outside of our world that are bigger than us.”

Watch the livestream on NASA TV during this virtual event, or join the watch party at Iowa State University, in the Student Innovation Center, first floor Step-atorium at 606 Bissell Road, Ames.

Partners for this event include the Science Center of Iowa and Putnam Museum and Science Center. Learn more about the International Space Station by watching the tour video or reading these space station facts.

For updates and to watch the event live, please visit For more information on the Iowa 4-H Youth Development program contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office or visit the Iowa 4-H website at  


Shareable photo: Allison Wielenga from Sioux County is among the youth across Iowa who submitted questions for astronauts aboard the International Space Station to answer during the Sept. 27 NASA In-flight Education Downlink.

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