BOISE A NASA astronaut with strong ties to the Treasure Valley is about to make this bond stronger as he plans to work closely with students at Boise State University.

When Barbara Morgan, Idaho's teacher in space, took off in 2007, her trip to the International Space Station turned out to be much more than a mission to space.

That trip led to her teaching at Boise State as a distinguished educator in residence, teaching the next generation looking to go to space, and that's where astronaut Steve Swanson comes in.

The primary focus is science, said Swanson of his mission.

He's preparing to head to space for six months to take command of the International Space Station.

His relationship with Morgan and family in the area are the reasons why he reached out to BSU to work with him while he's in space.

I believe in trying to inspire students, especially in our math, science and technology and engineering areas to really try to do something different and to try and do the best I can, said Swanson.

Dave Boutdy is a senior marketing major at BSU.

I mean who isn't intrigued by space? said Boutdy.

He's one of about a dozen Space Broncos that will come up with ideas and proposals for experiments for Swanson to test in space.

For me, it's definitely broadening horizons because as cool as space sounds, I'm not sure I'd ever go up there, said Boutdy.

But he and his colleagues wouldn't mind getting a foot in the door with NASA.

I would like it too, it would be great. I would probably be more of the social media guy, I don't think I'd be going to space, but yeah, it's definitely a big learning thing for all of us, said Boutdy.

While Boutdy is a marketing major, his classmates are from several disciplines, including science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM.

It's those fields that Swanson says would be good for our college students to pursue now and in the future.

I guess I just want them to get an idea that math and science, that even though it's difficult right now for them in these classes, it turns out to be a really fun job, and it has a really rewarding experience at the end, said Swanson.

Swanson and two Russian cosmonauts will fly to the International Space Station on March 25. While there he'll work with and talk to Boise State students about conducting experiments. Then on May 6, Swanson will have a downlink with students at Boise State to field live questions.

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