Question Sheet: Dreams of Floating in Space


Before reading:

  1. What qualities would you need to become an astronaut?
  2. What are some of the potential dangers you might face when traveling into space?
  3. Some people think it’s unnecessary for humans to travel into space. What might serve as alternatives for space exploration?

During reading:

  1. What is another term for the weightlessness astronauts feel while in orbit?
  2. What is the “Vomit Comet”? How did it get such a gross name?
  3. When a space shuttle is in orbit, does it stay still or does it move?
  4. How do astronauts train before going into space?
  5. What are some of the challenges that astronauts face? Why do the astronauts believe it’s worthwhile to undertake serious risks?

After reading:

  1. Have you ever felt weightless? Where did it happen? What might explain it?
  2. After reading this article do you think astronauts should continue to travel into outer space? What information changed your opinion? If you opinion has not changed, what evidence do you have for your position?
  3. The astronauts who spoke at the science fair encouraged people to pursue their dreams. What dreams are motivating you? What do you see as obstacles that you will have to overcome to achieve them?
  4. Guion Bluford Jr.’s experience in space gave him a new perspective on life. What did he realize? Has there been an event in your life that has given you a new perspective? Describe it.


  1. Why does Franklin Chang-Diaz call space “a frontier”? Think of three other nouns that could be used to describe outer space.
  2. Imagine that you were going to interview an astronaut. What questions would you ask her or him? Carefully select five questions about space travel that you think many students would like to have answered.
  3. Write a letter to NASA explaining your position on space travel. Give your best evidence on why they should or shouldn’t continue sending people into space.


The speed of a space shuttle in low Earth orbit is about 17,500 miles per hour. Earth has a radius of about 4000 miles, and the shuttle orbits at a height of about 200 miles above sea level. If it follows a circular orbit above Earth, how far does the shuttle travel to go once around the planet. How long does the shuttle take to travel that distance?