Krtek tours Czech Republic after return from space
The Czech cartoon character Krtek, or Little Mole, has been given a hero’s welcome back home after spending two weeks in space. The American astronaut Andrew Feustel, who took Krtek to space aboard the Endeavour space shuttle, arrived in Prague last week with his family, and is now touring the Czech Republic with Krtek to promote science and technology among young Czechs.
“The reason Krtek was chosen was because he’s familiar to so many generations here in the Czech Republic, all over Europe and the whole world now. We hope that through his adventures in space, children and youth will become interested in math and science and technology, and will grow those educational experiences toward future careers in technology.”
This was the second time Andrew Feustel took something or someone Czech with him to space. On his first mission, the astronaut had a book of poems entitled Cosmic Songs by the 19th century Czech writer Jan Neruda. But it seems Krtek’s company was more enjoyable.
“Krtek looked out of the window a lot, he got to brush his teeth, we fed him some food, and he also tried on a space suit.”
The astronaut in fact took two Little Moles with him to space, and he gave one of them to the character’s creator, Zdeněk Miler, when they met over the weekend. The other, bigger one is now busy helping Andrew Feustel in his new role as a co-chair of a new, US Embassy-sponsored project called Junior Ambassadors for Science and Technology, as Ambassador Norman Eisen pointed out.
With the US space shuttle programme scrapped, however, they will have to wait some time before flying out to space, at least on American vessels. But Andrew Feustel is definitely optimistic about the future of the American space programme.
“We will continue to support the space station programme and missions to space with the Russians. Eventually, the United States will have additional rockets of our own, both through NASA and private industry. So we look forward to returning to the space station on our rockets and possibly flying beyond, to the Moon and eventually, some day I believe in our lifetime, to Mars.”