Mission accomplished. After a few tries, students in Middletown successfully made contact with the International Space Station Friday afternoon.
Despite careful planning, there was no real way of knowing whether the mission would be a success. With the help of the Newport County Radio Club students at All Saints Academy were able to clearly broadcast a signal.
“We knew that it worked, but believe me, when you heard the astronaut's voice and I heard it my heart started beating again because it took a while to hear them from the noise,” said ham radio operator Bob Beatty.
During the encounter, the kids were able to take turns asking questions with NASA astronaut Jeff Williams. They had a very small window to work with. The contact only lasted about 9 minutes, but that gave the students just enough time to get all 24 questions in.
“When you are actually talking to them it's not as nervous because it's just a person you are talking to,” said 8th grader Stella Garcia.
Moderator Kevin Cullen was happy to see young students taking a hands on approach to learning, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and math or "STEAM".
“This stuff is really exciting and relevant for the kids so hopefully from the parent’s perspective they'll take school more seriously,” he said.
“That students can achieve these great accomplishments if they really believe that they have the talents and abilities to do it,” added Principal Anita Brouse. She hopes the experience will inspire students for years to come.
The school was chosen from approximately 6,000 applicants worldwide to participate. They are the first school in Rhode Island, and one of only 6 in the country, to reach the international space station by amateur radio.