From the Cosmos to Kyiv: American Astronaut with Ukrainian Roots Arrives

Did you know that the Ukrainian flag has been unfurled in outer space?

The one to do it was an American astronaut with Ukrainian roots, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper.

Stefanyshyn-Piper, who also knows the Ukrainian language, has completed five spacewalks totaling 33 hours and 42 minutes.

She came to Ukraine this week to help Ukraine celebrate World Space Week.

“I really get very good responses here in Ukraine. The people are very enthusiastic, they are very curious about my experiences, and they asked a lot of really interesting questions” Stefanyshyn-Piper said.

Stefanyshyn-Piper, whose father had moved to the United States from his native Ukraine, said that she came to Ukraine for the first time back in 2007.

This time, she started out visiting Kharkiv, where she met with students and teachers at Kharkiv Technical University. Next, she visited Kyiv, and after plans on visiting Zhytomyr, and Lviv.

“I read about this event and it sounded super interesting. A NASA astronaut comes to us, to Kyiv for a meetup. This is really cool. I got really interested because space is extremely interesting and talking to a person who was in space is unbelievable,” said Amina Episheva, who was among the audience.

Stefanyshyn-Piper – who was bombarded with students’ questions – talked about some of her most memorable moments aboard the International Space Station.

One memory she’ll not soon forget was a rather embarrassing one. She had been doing some work on the exterior of the ISS when she accidentally lost her grip on a tool bag worth $100,000.

“I wanted to cry when I saw the bag fly away, but I couldn’t go after it,” Stefanyshyn-Piper said.