Richland NASA Astronaut Kayla Barron’s Tri-Cities homecoming

Richland Astronaut Kayla Barron 9.13.22

RICHLAND, Wash. — Richland High School graduate, Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy and NASA Astronaut Kayla Barron came home to inspire local students.

She graduated in 2006, and said she hadn’t walked the halls in almost a decade. This homecoming brought this local hero back to her alma mater to talk to students about her experiences.

Barron has been further from home than a lot, after spending 177 days in orbit.

“In the Tri-Cities community, Richland in particular, my teachers, coaches, mentors, friends here were just such a big part of me developing the confidence I needed to chase big dreams and goals along the way.”

Growing up in Richland, Washington…well, she was just a small town girl living on the International Space Station.

She touched back down on Earth in May after completing NASA’s third-longest commercial crew mission.

WATCH: Richland native launches into space with NASA & SpaceX

She came back home to share some inspiration for Richland High School students; her high school.

“What are the questions you’re asking yourself?” Barron asked. “Are you asking yourself, ‘What am I passionate about? What do I really care about? What are the most challenging things I can be doing to develop the skills that I’m going to need to take on the next challenge? And who do I want standing next to me when things get hard? What does your team look like?’”

Everyone was wowed by her experience, regardless of their age. One question they were curious about…what’s coming next for humans on the moon?

“Of course, everyone in our office wants to go to the moon. Everybody, hopefully will get that opportunity as these missions come to maturity,” said Barron.

She said NASA has things in the work for the future, and she’s on the team that’s making that happen. The Artemis program is getting humans back to the moon.

“We’re excited to go back and we’re going back in a different way this time. We’re not going back to just visit a tiny little portion of the moon and leave, we’re going back to stay we’re going to have a permanent human presence on the moon habitats; live on another planetary body,” explained Barron.

What definitely got her ready for this new project was her International Space Station adventure, which she said didn’t actually take her too far from home.

READ: Richland woman is gearing up for an out-of-this-world adventure to the ISS

“It’s really interesting being up there because we’re actually only 250 miles above the surface of the earth. So, in some ways, we’re a lot closer to our hometowns. And, you know, way closer, when I’m up there every 90 minutes when I orbit over the Northwest, than I am down in Houston,” Barron said.

Barron talked to Richland High School Tuesday morning, and was the featured speaker at the STEM Connections Gala at the REACH Museum.

Wednesday, she talks to Pasco fourth graders, River’s Edge High School and Lewis and Clark Elementary School. She concludes her Tri-Cities visit with a presentation to WSU Tri-Cities students and faculty.