EUREKA, Mo. – Members of NASA’s Gateway Space Station Program have returned home to St. Louis. As they’re planning missions, they’re also hoping to inspire some high school students.

Program leaders paid a visit to Eureka High School on Friday and highlighted the importance of STEM education in their careers.

“The kids here are telling [us about] experiments they’re doing in biomedical and physics. That’s awesome,” said Sean Fuller, international partner of the NASA Getaway Program. “That’s exactly what we’re looking for. That’s going to help us advance, not only in our commercial world, but also people further out. Getting them further out. Who knows, maybe one of them will be the first boot prints on Mars one day.”

If Fuller seems excited to talk about an out-of-this world experience, it’s because it’s a special day in the Gateway City.On Friday, at his hometown high school, he’s brought his team leaders on one of the most ambitious projects in space exploration.

“It’s really cool to see someone from kind of a small school like this could go far into NASA,” said Eureka High School student Kate Hoevelmann. “I feel like you think people from here might not go that far and succeed that high and that’s a really great opportunity. That really did happen, and that could lead to the same opportunity for us.”

A future space station called Gateway will orbit the moon, sending crews back-and-forth to Earth to the space station and the moon’s surface.

“We also look to the future to Mars,” said Fuller. “We call it Moon to Mars, and crews will come to Gateway in the future and have the opportunity to go from there off to Mars. So, it becomes that gateway for exploration.”

“Gateway is an exciting program,” said Frank De Winn, EAS Program Manager and Astronaut. “It’s the first time we’re really going to build a structure that will allow us to have a sustainable exploration of the lunar surface.”

The lunar outpost will be a big part of the Artemis Mission to return to the surface of the moon, and eventually the first human mission to Mars.

Fuller has brought team members from the Canadian and European Space Agencies to his former high school to talk technology and the future.

“The idea that you can do something like that together really kind of brings people to terrestrial solutions, and that just inspires people to do things better [and] do them collaboratively,” said Ken Podwalski, program manager of the Canadian Gateway Program.

The team leaders of the present hope to surround themselves with good talent.

“So inspiring,” said De Winn. “These young people going for these STEM careers in science and technology are really what our world needs.”