Kids Chat With Astronauts Via Ham Radio

Excited students at Adobe Bluffs Elementary School in Rancho Penasquitos got the chance to listen to a real-life astronaut, but not in a classroom, or auditorium. Astronaut Cady Coleman was hundreds of miles above earth in the International Space Station.
"It's really cool. It's really a once in a lifetime opportunity," said 5th grader Emma Stevenson. "I feel really fortunate to be one those people."
Two years ago, the school applied to NASA to host a ham radio link between the school and the ISS. It's part of a project called "Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)." The program is designed to get students around the world interested in math and science.
On Thursday, the ISS hovered above San Diego at exactly 9:09 a.m., which allowed for a 10-minute window of radio communication. Twenty students were selected to answer questions.
"This is Shiya, how long can an astronaut be in space, over."
"This is Hunter, did you know when you were a kid that you wanted to be an astronaut? Why did you become an astronaut, over."
Coleman answered each question, which was heard over a speaker by the entire student body.
A small group of Ham radio operators were up before dawn to set up antennas and radio equipment to make the talkback possible.
"The main goal of the ARISS program is to have students learn about space and science," said Jim McLaughlin. His daughter Lauren, a fourth grader and licensed ham operator was at the microphone when initial contact was made with the ISS.
"It was really cool. It's like a one in a-thousand chance that kids get to do this," said fourth grader Claire Galoway.

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