National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Edward Michael Fincke said on Friday the Chandrayaan Mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was a success, with 95 per cent of the mission being accomplished.

Col. Fincke, popularly known as Mike Fincke, a veteran of two long-duration space missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS), said that though some people had raised speculation about the Chandrayaan Mission, the international scientific community felt the ISRO had accomplished its mission.

The astronaut — who has been selected by NASA as a mission specialist in the six- member crew for the Space Transportation System (STS)-134 for his third space flight in 2010 — was speaking to reporters on the penultimate day of his 12-day official visit to Assam and Meghalaya.

Col. Fincke’s visit and his interaction with students were facilitated by the Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters (FASS). He interacted with students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati during the annual techno-management festival of IIT-G, Techniche 2009.

Summing up his experience of the visit, the astronaut said the people of the region were very kind and warm and the students and teachers incredibly capable and intelligent. He said that on his return he would speak to NASA officials as to how different channels of communication could be opened for students from the northeast region to take part in space programmes.

Married to Renita Saikia, an Assamese engineer at NASA, Col. Fincke arrived to a grand welcome as Asomor Jowai (Assam’s son-in-law). He also became popular with the new identity of ‘Mike Mama’ (maternal uncle) among the school students.

The astronaut, who relishes traditional Assamese cuisine, tasted some special fish preparations like Masor Tenga and Masor Muror Khar with aromatic joha rice.

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