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Space station call plants seed with students

At 10:57 a.m., the International Space Station crested the horizon in Perth, Australia, orbiting 400 kilometres above the Earth.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/04/2019 (1392 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

At 10:57 a.m., the International Space Station crested the horizon in Perth, Australia, orbiting 400 kilometres above the Earth.

“N A One S S, N A One S S, this is Victor Kilo Six Mike Juliet calling for a scheduled contact. Do you copy? Over.”

The Australian radio operator’s voice crackled through the speakers in the Shaftesbury High School gym in Winnipeg. As teachers held up signs asking students to be quiet, he called 11 times, punctuated by the roar of the open radio channel.

Finally, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques answered.

“Victor Kilo Six Mike Juliet, this is November Alpha One Sierra Sierra. How do you copy?”

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques called Shaftesbury High School from the International Space Station Wednesday and answered questions from students. (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press files)

With only minutes until the space station moved out of range, the students launched into questions for the astronaut.

Grade 9 students from nine schools in the Pembina Trails School Division came to Shaftesbury to hear the call Wednesday morning. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station operators facilitated the connection.

Students took turns asking Saint-Jacques questions about space station life, such as how the station is powered, and how astronauts celebrate birthdays. With cookies, it turns out.

Grade 12 student Rachel Parson. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

A titter went through the gym as the 49-year-old Canadian said astronauts’ urine is recycled back into water.

Saint-Jacques also said he relaxes by staring at Earth from the window, and that his wife had sent him “precious packets of home-cooked food” dehydrated by NASA.

“I thought that was cute,” said Grade 12 student Rachel Parson.

Parson has a personal connection to space. Over the summer, she joined a University of Winnipeg Mars simulation study and spent three days at an impact crater near Gypsumville.

“I never expected to be doing anything like this,” Parson said of call with Saint-Jacques. “It’s crazy that just going to this high school has got me listening to astronauts.”

Adrian Deakin, the Shaftesbury High School teacher who organized the event. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Teacher Adrian Deakin said waiting for Saint-Jacques to answer was nerve-wracking, as so much could interfere.

“We did everything we could to put things in place,” he said.

“Today, we have planted a seed with students,” Deakin added. “I don’t know if its a seed that will germinate in the domain of space or I don’t know if it will be any other discipline. But that’s not what matters.

“What matters is today, students were able to have a personal connection.”

geralyn.wichers@freepress.mb.ca

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