Amazing Astral Adventures at St Peter’s
Space and science fans at St Peter’s Juniors in Broadstairs have chatted live with an astronaut on board the international space station via a radio link as it soared 1,430 miles above.
Children quizzed Jasmin Moghbeli as she sped through the cosmos at 17,500 mph via a link made possible by ARISS, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station team, and Hilderstone Radio Society
Months of planning by St Peter’s science master Nathan Williams and the radio experts saw huge antennae erected in the school grounds with an array of equipment, cameras and microphones set up at ground control in the school hall.
Weeks of waiting distilled to the historic moment when pupil Isabella read out the official call signal to the space station and Jasmin’s reply crackled through the airwaves to gasps, cheers and flag waving from the excited young audience in the hall.
Isabella, a member of the school’s Space Club and the radio society, said: “There was a bit of a gap before we heard Jasmin so I was a bit nervous. When she came on air everyone waved their flags. It was so amazing to hear her – it was life-changing. I felt so happy.”
Fellow space fan Audrey said: “I was very excited - there was a really big antenna at the school. I had practised my question, and also knew that I had to say ‘over’ at the end.”
Question topics ranged from living on the ISS to life elsewhere in the Universe and whether it is hot or cold in space. When asked what the most amazing thing she has seen on Earth from space, Jasmin replied: “Every time I look at Earth there is something beautiful looking back at me. I get excited when I see a coastline as most of time we see ocean and I know there will be people down there.”
Mr Williams described the events as “a fantastic opportunity for our children and other pupils from visiting schools to share a ground-breaking moment for us.”
He highlighted to significance of amateur radio to the project. He explained: “It represents the very essence of human ingenuity and the unyielding desire to connect, explore, and communicate. It has been the bridge that has connected our school to the cosmos, enabling our students to engage in conversations that transcend the boundaries of our planet.
“Through amateur radio, our children have delved into the intricate world of frequencies and signals, learning not only about the wonders of space but also the importance of effective communication.”
The exciting event also featured Daisy Richardson, an aerospace engineer at B2Space, who acted as the stand in astronaut during the practice runs and she went round to the classrooms, answering their questions on space.
Trainee astronaut Meganne Christian told the audience about her selection from 22,000 applicants to become an astronaut reserve with the European Space Agency. She discussed her experience working in Antarctica, where the sky was so clear she could see her shadow cast by the Milky Way.
Children from St Mildreds’, Callis Grange, Sandown, Palm Bay, Ramsgate Holy Trinity, The Downs and Charles Dickens schools joined St Peter’s for the space adventure, which was also watched live and on internet streaming by parents.
Head Teacher Tim Whitehouse said: “We love Science at St Peter’s and space exploration is an integral part of our learning. Our children are passionate about Space Club, learning about radio communications and astronomy-based activities like star gazing.
“We applied to ARISS to make contact with the space station and our questions to the flight team had to be approved by NASA. To be selected is a rare honour and it formed the central part of school-wide education programme about space and science.
“We’ve very grateful to Matt Payne and John Hislop from Hilderstone Radio for all their support in making the day happen. Ciaran Morgan from ARISS who was our liaison contact (he also facilitated the contact) was fantastic in guiding us through the process and helping us prepare the children for this event.
“Big praise also goes to our Science lead Nathan Williams who organised the event and spent many hours in planning and preparation.
“I wholeheartedly thank every person and organisation that has worked so enthusiastically to make this dream come true.
“It is an inspirational out of this world experience for our children that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
We even featured on BBC & ITV news!