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Former astronaut Dunbar talks space with seniors in Redmond
Former NASA astronaut Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar discussed the United States space program and her five space-shuttle flights Friday morning at the Emerald Heights retirement community volunteer breakfast in Redmond.
She made an impact on the attendees.
Emerald Heights resident Rosemarie Matthes (pictured) thanked Dunbar for her work following the gathering. Matthes noted that her grandson works for Space X, a company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. He is also a propulsion engineer at the University of Washington and hopes to go into space someday.
Dunbar, who grew up on a farm in eastern Washington, read books by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne as a child and they "helped shape my attitude about what could happen in space." In ninth grade, she took an algebra class and realized that "I want to fly in space and build spaceships." Dunbar did both and looked on in amazement at the scenery during her space-shuttle flights. "Carl Sagan was right: there are 'billions upon billions of stars,'" she said.
Dunbar currently leads the University of Houston's new STEM Center (focused on science, technology, engineering and math) and joined the faculty of the Cullen College of Engineering. "We're trying to inspire young people what my teachers inspired me to do," she said.
As for Emerald Heights residents, they don't volunteer "billions upon billions of hours," but they notched an impressive 14,351 hours in the country store, coffee shop, on the Emerald Heights Railroad, maintaining the hiking trails and running the furniture sales and annual bazaar. They also volunteer in the Redmond community and beyond at Hopelink, hospitals, kids' organizations and more.