For a few more days, a third of all humans in space are from the state of Maine.
Last week, York native Chris Cassidy joined Caribou native, Dr. Jessica Meir, on the International Space Station. It's the first time two astronauts from the same state have been on the ISS at the same time and for Mainers, it represents a moment of state pride.
On Monday, Meir and Cassidy took questions from Maine school children in a virtual conference organized by NASA. Topics ranged from what astronauts miss most on Earth, how they sleep in space and how they do their laundry.
For Meir in particular, wrapping up her first space mission, life in space is so interesting and busy that she does not miss home too much.
"The answer is no," she said. "I think that's especially because this is my first space flight.. and every day there's something new and exciting."
A number of Mainers, from U.S. Senators to young adults, have watched and shared social media posts from the astronauts.
Retired Maine broadcaster, Bill Green, has interviewed both Cassidy and Meir on multiple occasions and considers Cassidy a friend. He communicates with both astronauts by e-mail.
"I might tease them or something, send a pleasant message from home," Green explained. "I think it's interesting because they're really different people."
"To me, Chris is the old-school, 'the right stuff' guy walking in a silver spacesuit while Jess is a Ph.D., intellectual. She came through the academic realm and he was a Navy SEAL."
The meeting of the astronauts in space was something Green calls, "a thrill."
He remembers watching the Apollo moon missions and, while the ISS trips of today are not exactly the same, he's proud and thinks Maine had something to do with getting both Cassidy and Meir to such heights.
"I've always thought that these small areas produce that kind of person," Green said. "They're outstanding Mainers and outstanding Americans."
As Meir prepares to return home, she is also preparing for her first days in the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. When she left, the virus was not widespread.
Now, the hugs she was looking forward to giving her family will be delayed.
"I actually think I will feel more isolated on the Earth than I am up here," she said. "It's surreal for us.. it certainly will be difficult for me not to give some hugs."
Meir is expected to land in Kazakhstan on Friday.