Students from Halls Head College had an opportunity of a lifetime when they were able to linkup with the International Space Station (ISS).
On Monday, November 6, the college's Head of Science, Lesley McWhinnie, and science teacher, David Hepenstall, brought the privileged students to the school's auditorium.
The students had the chance to ask questions of the ISS crew via a ham radio operator close to the projected path of the station. In return, they received answers in a short window of opportunity as the ISS flew from horizon to horizon.
The students also watched the ISS trajectory on a real time display of the Earth, and Scott Fernando, Halls Head's network technician, maintained the audio and visual link.
Astronaut Loral O'Hara was the ISS crew member the students had the privilege to communicate with.
They were told the astronauts enjoy the change from doing their usual tasks and routine to be able to chat with people down on Earth.
Questions ranged from how the astronaut was motivated into her career, what food she enjoyed the most while travelling in space and even what space smelled like.
Students managed to get in a complete round of questions and were part way through their second set when the link was lost.
Usually, a local ham radio operator in Mandurah, Martin Diggens, assists with the relay when the ISS passes near to Australia, but this time the closest path was over South Africa and radio operator John Sygo was able to handle the communications on behalf of the school.
Radio operator from Queensland, Shane Lynd, also coordinated the linkup.
The school said it was a thrilling experience for both the students and staff, and the result of over a year and a half of setting up.
They were incredibly excited to have been a part of the unique event.
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