ISS Astronaut to Talk to Ill Children About Space Medical Research

Astronauts to Explain Cutting-Edge Research and Answer Children’s Questions

Media Contacts

Sonja Luecke
Communications Manager, The Children’s Inn at NIH
[email protected]

Mysba Regis
Marketing and Communications director, The Children’s Inn at NIH
[email protected]

BETHESDA, Md., (Aug. 15, 2019) – Children with rare diseases staying at The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health will speak to astronaut Dr. Andrew Morgan on the International Space Station on Aug. 22nd at an event beginning at 12:45 p.m. about the medical research on the space station.

Taking place at The Children’s Inn at NIH at 7 West Dr. in Bethesda, Maryland, the ham radio conversation between the children and an astronaut is sponsored by the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory and made possible by Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the NIH. The event will also be lived streamed on The Children’s Inn Facebook: @TheChildrensInn and the National Institutes of Health’s Twitter feed: @NIH.

The goal of the educational event is to help children enrolled in NIH studies to understand how, just like the studies they are participating in, the NIH-funded research in space can benefit generations to come by identifying new treatments and therapies.

“For the children staying at The Children’s Inn, clinical research studies at the NIH often represent their best chance at a treatment or cure,” said Jennie Lucca, CEO of the Children’s Inn. “The conversation with an ISS crew member is a wonderful chance for the children to learn more about the important research NIH is doing on earth and in space to advance the science of medicine to benefit other seriously ill children like them and all of humanity.”

NCATS’ space research, through the NCATS-led Tissue Chips in Space program, focuses on developing bioengineered devices – tissue chips – that can speed up the development of new drugs and therapies. Tissue chips are designed to mimic how organs and tissues, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys and bone, work. Because microgravity causes rapid changes to human organs and tissues, Tissue Chips in Space will enable studies of organs at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels that are difficult and time-consuming to carry out on earth.

“We’re excited to partner with The Children’s Inn in providing this unique opportunity for children to speak with an astronaut orbiting above us in space,” said NCATS director Dr. Christopher Austin,  “NCATS-supported research in space is part of our center’s efforts to bring new therapies to patients more quickly, and this also includes a commitment to work with patients and families, particularly those affected by rare diseases.”

Children participating in NIH studies and their families may stay at The Children’s Inn at NIH, a nonprofit organization, free of charge when they live more than 50 miles away from the NIH campus in Bethesda. In addition to free lodging, the organization provides free educational support, meals and a wide range of recreational and therapeutic activities.

Children talking to an ISS crew member include Cooper, 12, of North Carolina who has neurofibromatosis type 1, a genetic tumor predisposition syndrome.

“I want to ask the astronaut, ‘What happens if you get sick in space? How do you get medical treatment,’” Cooper said. “I want to know how they can help children like me with rare diseases.”

Other children staying at The Inn will be available for interview including Melva, 10, from Peru who has been diagnosed with Interleukin-12 receptor deficiency and Cole, 8, from Alabama who has been diagnosed with Dada 2.

Children who stayed at The Inn in the past also had the chance to submit questions via social media. Some of these questions that will be asked by the children present include:

  • How long do you sleep in space? Is the time required for rest shorter due to being in space?
  • How do you prepare food in space?
  • What do you do for fun in space?

Timing for and the length of the contact with the space crew depends on a number of factors, so the event logistics are subject to change.


ABOUT THE CHILDREN’S INN: Founded in 1990, The Children’s Inn at NIH is a private nonprofit with the mission to provide “a place like home” for children and their families participating in pediatric research at the Clinical Center of the world-renowned National Institutes of Health. The Inn reduces families’ burden of illness through free lodging and therapeutic and recreational activities as well as educational support to children. Since opening in 1990, more than 15,000 families from all 50 states and 94 countries have found a second home at The Inn. As a partner in discovery and care with the NIH, The Inn strives for the day when no family endures the heartbreak of a seriously ill child. For more information about The Inn, visit

ABOUT NCATS: NCATS conducts and supports research on the science and operation of translation — the process by which interventions to improve health are developed and implemented — to allow more treatments to get to more patients more quickly. For more information about how NCATS is improving health through smarter science, visit

ABOUT ARISS: Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the International Space Station (ISS). In the United States, sponsors are the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students in classrooms or informal education venues.  With the help of experienced amateur radio volunteers, ISS crews speak directly with large audiences in a variety of public forums.  Before and during these radio contacts, students, teachers, parents, and communities learn about space, space technologies, and amateur radio.  For more information, see, and

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS) U.S. NATIONAL LABORATORY: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation’s newest national laboratory to optimize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The ISS National Laboratory manages access to the permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space.