Waterbury Welcomes Home Local Astronaut - NBC Connecticut

Waterbury Welcomes Home Local Astronaut

Hometown hero Rich Mastracchio, who spent six months in space, has returned to Waterbury for remarks and rewards celebrating his accomplishments. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014)

Waterbury city leaders welcomed a hometown hero today when they held a ceremony for astronaut Rick Mastracchio, who returned in May from a six-month expedition on board the International Space Station.

Mastracchio attended was at Crosby High School today and presented Mayor Neil O'Leary with a plaque loaded with mementoes from the International Space Station, including a photo of the city of Waterbury from space.

"It's just an amazing story. It's a Waterbury story. It's a story of perseverance, it's a story of commitment, it's a story of success," Mayor Neil O'Leary said during the ceremony.

Mastracchio gave credit to members of the local community who have helped and supported him through the years.

"Obviously, the folks in Waterbury, all the school teachers that I had, they were the ones who made me what I am today," Mastracchio said. 

One of those teachers gave the credit to Mastracchio.

"The credit should go to Rick himself. We give students the tools, but it's up to them to have the perseverance and commitment to do what he has done," said Rosalie Griffin, who taught the astronaut calculus.

Mastracchio has stayed well connected while in space. He hosted a video conference with students at Waterbury's Palace Theater, gave the 2014 commencement speace for the UConn School of Engineering and hosted several live interviews.

He's also been active on Twitter, sharing photos of all areas of the world snapped from space.

Mastracchio attended Chase Elementary School and Crosby High School and went on to study electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Connecticut.

He received a master's degree in electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's in physical science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

The release from Waterbury Public Schools called Mastracchio "one of the most prolific astronauts of all time."