Elementary school students speak with space station commander

Space Talk

Kaylie Miller, having asked her question, looks on as fellow students speak to astronauts on the International Space Station via amateur radio Monday afternoon at Dixon Elementary School.

John Althouse/The Daily News
Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 01:07 PM.

April 21, 2014, is a day Allyson Scott says she’ll remember for the rest of her life.

Allyson and 20 of her classmates at Dixon Elementary School got the opportunity to talk to Dr. Koichi Wakata, commander of the International Space Station (ISS).

“I got to talk to astronauts,” Allyson said. “It was the most amazing thing in my entire life.”

After approximately three minutes of effort, communication between the school and the ISS was established by members of the Onslow County Amateur Radio Club when Wakata’s voice came through speakers at 2:08 p.m. EST in the school’s gymnasium. For Bill Wager, a member of the club, the experience was nearly indescribable.

“Very rarely will you get unrestricted contact with the space station,” Wager said. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

One by one, all 20 students took to the microphone rigged by the club and asked their questions, which ranged from celebrating the holidays to the effect living in micro-gravity can have on eyesight. Hunter Voorhees, a fourth grade student at Dixon Elementary School, asked Wakata who inspired him to pursue his career in aeronautics. Wakata said it was witnessing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin take their first steps on the moon in 1969, when he was 5 years old that spurred his interest. Hunter said his plans after school will either lead him into space or to the White House as the president of the United States.

“It was pretty cool getting to talk to astronauts,” Hunter said.

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