REDDING, Calif. -

A former NASA astronaut urged Redding students to reach for the stars Friday. Shasta High School students were able to hear words of encouragement from Kent Rominger, a Captain who has logged more than 26.6 million miles in space.

"Inspiring this age group is really important because the fact is, since we stopped flying the space shuttle, people don't know we have an active space program," explained Rominger.

The Captain has orbited the Earth more than 1,060 times during his five separate missions beyond earth’s atmosphere.

But while this high flyer may be back on solid ground, he still focuses on the future of the space program - which all starts with students.

"A lot of times math and science isn't fun, or it can be intimidating and so what I really like to tell the kids is 'hey you know what, reconsider. If you're one that doesn't like it or you're afraid of it, you think it's too hard - give it another chance. Because it really is kind of neat once you get it figured out," Rominger said.

He went on to explain how there may soon be a shortage of technical engineers and scientists unless todays’ youth are inspired to strive for those jobs.

Rominger gushed about how gorgeous and mesmerizing the earth looks from the International Space Station.

When reminded how many people dream doing what Rominger has done in his lifetime and asked what other lifetime goals he has in front of him, the former astronaut didn’t miss a beat.

“I would love to go back into space. I would love to do a spacewalk. I would love to walk on the moon. I would love to go to Mars, so all of that is in front of the kids that are students here today so to me it's a real exciting place for them,” Rominger said with an envious smile.