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Posted: October 23, 2018

Students Chat Live with Space Station Astronaut

A few well-prepared students got to ask questions of an astronaut aboard the International Space Station as it flew through the Albuquerque sky on the morning of Oct. 18.

Students from Valley High School and Mission Avenue and Chaparral elementary schools spoke directly with Dr. Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor aboard the Space Station once they establish contact at around 10:26 a.m. Auñón-Chancellor is a member of the crew that launched to the Space Station in June. 

The students had about 10 minutes to ask questions prepared by the three participating schools before they lost their signal.

The event was streamed live from the Valley High performing arts center so that students in classrooms across the Albuquerque Public Schools and the nation could watch and listen. It was also streamed on the APS Facebook page. 

Astronaut Mike Mullane of Albuquerque kicked off the program. Mullane is a veteran of three Space Shuttle missions.

Superintendent Raquel Reedy also greeted students and volunteers gathered in the Valley performing arts center. 

"When I was a little girl growing up in Laredo, Texas, the idea of talking to astronauts in outer space as they flew through the morning sky in a spaceship was the stuff of sci-fi movies and comic books," she said. "And yet, that’s exactly what our students are doing today!" 

 Valley, the lead school for this project, was one of nearly a thousand schools worldwide that applied for this opportunity. After an extensive selection process, only a dozen schools were selected to participate. Valley was selected because of its continuing support of many collaborative STEM activities, funded primarily by grants through the APS Education Foundation and the Engineering the Future STEM federal grant.

This two-way amateur radio contact with a Space Station astronaut is supported by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station organization (ARISS), a cooperative venture of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, the American Radio Relay League and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States and other international space agencies and amateur radio organizations around the world. The primary purpose of ARISS is to organize scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the Space Station and classrooms around the globe. 

This event was coordinated by the Valley Air Force JROTC STEM program sponsored by Master Sgt. Chuck Newman and the K-12 STEM Initiative under the guidance of Chaparral Assistant Principal Alma Ripley with assistance from the High Desert Amateur Radio Club of Albuquerque.

Watch as students make contact with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. 

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