"It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity," a US defense contractor told Sputnik while waiting for his turn to take a photo with the Russian cosmonaut. "I am very excited. It is so cool!"
Former NASA astronauts Lt. Col. Duane "Digger" Carey, Col. Mark C. Lee, Ronald M. Sega, CAPT Scott "Scooter" Altman, and Kathryn C. Thornton and record-breaking Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev were special guests at Yuri's Night on Sunday evening.
The space heroes happily answered questions and posed for pictures.
David Wood, a middle school teacher from the US state of Maryland, was in a line to talk to Krikalev. Wood told Sputnik that he was really happy to see the Russian cosmonaut, whom he already met last year.
"I really want to to say to him 'Thank you for coming back!' It is very cool to see him again… I would like to take a picture with him to show it my students hope it will inspire them to pursue airspace," Wood said.
US journalist Don Martinez told Sputnik that he had many questions for Krikalev.
"I want to ask about US-Russia cooperation, about international cooperation, and how we can leave politics behind when working in space," Martinez said.
The guests also lined up to look at and take pictures of the bronze bust of Yuri Gagarin presented by the Russian government to the Space Foundation in 2017.
Another spot popular with the guests was the exhibition with space food from different countries, including Russia, Japan and the United States.
Yuri’s Night, which is a fundraiser for Space Foundation STEM education programs, included a number of exhibits, presentations, a photo lab and a silent auction.
The guests could also take part in fun interactive activities, such as simulations that allowed people to race across the Moon's surface by operating a Sphero rolling droid and navigate a rover across Mars' surface, as well as viewing the night sky with telescopes.