An astronaut visited West Chester earlier this month, and talked to youngsters from three schools about the past, present, and future of America's space program.

Marsha S. Ivins led two PowerPoint presentations on May 9 at West Chester Friends School's meeting house, one that was open to the public and another exclusively for students from West Chester Friends, Goshen Friends School, and Chester County Family Academy, a West Chester charter school.

Ivins, 57, has spent more than 1300 hours in space over five missions, her last a 13-day jaunt to the International Space Station on the space shuttle Atlantis in 2001.

The former Wallingford resident - Ivins graduated from Nether Providence High School in 1969 - talked about NASA's history, the often-overlooked details to life in space (Velcro is very important, you need to be strapped in to eat and sleep) and the program's hopes for Mars missions in the future.

   Will Hobson