Astronaut Mark Kelly Shares His New Mission With Atlanta

The crew of space shuttle Endeavour, clockwise from left, British born U.S. astronaut, pilot Greg Johnson, European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori, of Italy, Canadian born U.S. astronaut Greg Chamitoff, mission specialist Drew Feustel, mission specialist Mike Fincke and commander Mark Kelly, leave the Operations and Checkout building on their way to Pad 39A to board the shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Monday, May 16, 2011.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Credit John Raoux / Associated Press
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Retired astronaut Mark Kelly was in Atlanta Tuesday night as part of a new mission. The goal: Get younger generations excited about space.

Kelly gave a talk at the Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church in Emory Village to kick off the Atlanta Science Festival. He was met by a sea of fans, most of them children.

Austin Valencia, 6, said he was nervous to meet Kelly.

“”It’s just because I never met an astronaut before and this is, like, my first time doing this,” Austin said.

Kelly talked about his journey from being the child of two police officers from rural New Jersey to working as a Naval Aviator to eventually becoming an astronaut for NASA. When the subject of his retirement from NASA came up, he said many people think the U.S. retired its space program, as well.

“That’s not true. NASA is still working really hard,” he said. “We’ve got people aboard the International Space Station- we’ve got companies building us new rockets.

“Not too far in the future, we’re going to be flying U.S. crew members — U.S. astronauts, from U.S. soil again — aboard U.S.-made rockets.”

While companies like SpaceX and Boeing make huge advancements in space travel, he said he’s more excited about what the scientists of tomorrow will create.

The Atlanta Science Festival will take place until March 25th and will include over 100 events around Metro Atlanta.