Seven former astronauts, including some from NASA's Apollo missions to the moon, took part in an event meant to inspire students at a Minnesota high school named, appropriately, Apollo High.

The astronauts were at the St. Cloud school to visit with students and help launch a new technology that could have uses in the U.S. space program.

Apollo High alumnus John Pederson, head of a company creating energy efficient light communication technologies, says he arranged the event when he realized no Apollo astronaut had ever visited Apollo High School since it opened in 1970.

The school was named for NASA's Apollo space program, which ran from 1963 to 1972, and Pederson graduated from there in 1977.

Pederson, whose company is working with NASA on LED technology, says he came up with the idea of bringing seven former NASA astronauts to his old high school to help demonstrate the technology and talk to students.

"Since we know people at NASA and have offices there, the opportunity for the astronaut visit came up and I just loved it," he said.

Astronauts visiting the event at the school dubbed "Apollo at Apollo" included Charlie Duke, who walked on the moon as part of the Apollo 16 mission, Alfred Worden of Apollo 15 and Walt Cunningham from Apollo 7.

Also taking part were Skylab astronauts Ed Gibson, Jerry Carr and Jack Lousma and Space Shuttle pilot Jon McBride.

"We were very excited about space when I was growing up and rumor had it that astronauts were going to come to Apollo High School," Pederson said. "I could never verify whether that was official or not. But I thought it would be awesome if we could have this visit now."

Part of the school event was a demonstration of the LED technology of Pedersen's company, which uses light photons to transmit high-speed data.

The ability of the system to securely deliver data over the Internet has attracted the interest of NASA.

"Without going too much into detail, we're already working on a partnership agreement to develop this technology further," says NASA research scientist in advanced light concepts Eirik Holbert.

The light-based technology could help reduce the amount of copper wiring needed in a space station or capsule, saving wight and money, Holbert explained, which could in turn cut the size of solar arrays needed to provide power.

That's all in the future, Pederson says. For now, he's just happy about fulfilling the dream of seeing Apollo astronauts at Apollo High.

"It's so difficult to get these guys in one place that it all came together quickly and we had to do it now or maybe never," said Pederson, who helped start a model rocket club as an Apollo High student. "It's probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people who want to talk with someone who walked on the moon."

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