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Giant leap for Kiwi kids

Published: 11:43AM Friday November 21, 2008 Source: ONE News

An out of this world school activity has seen 21 students from a small Wairarapa school become the first Kiwis ever to make contact with the International Space Station via amateur radio.

An American astronaut on board the space station, Mike Fincke, got a call on Thursday night from some Featherston children.

"We're on the International Space Station, we're about 360 kilometres above the earth, travelling about 26,000 kilometres an hour, which is very fast by the way," Fincke said.

The 21 lucky pupils from St Teresa's school have become the first New Zealanders to ever reach out and touch someone so far away via ham radio.

They fired questions at the space station's commander on all the big issues such as what does your bedroom look like and what do you sleep on.

Fincke told the children that sleep in space is really fun. "I have a sleeping bag and I just tie it on to the wall of my little bedroom."

The space station in real time orbits the earth every 90 minutes which gave the children just 10 minutes to get though their chat. To make sure the mission would be a success Nasa insisted their questions be submitted a year ago.

But it was a close enough encounter to leave the students with their heads in the stars.