WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. — Students at Indian Trails Middle School got an opportunity most people never get. On Thursday, they got to talk to an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.
- Winter Springs students talk to ISS astronaut
- Indian Trails Middle one of 30 schools selected in entire U.S.
- City commissioner says it's critical for students to get this opportunity
- LINK: Watch the school's full talk with ISS
For Barron Roosa, this was definitely not a typical school day. In front of hundreds of his classmates, he got to ask astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor questions.
“I was really nervous,” said Roosa.
It’s a rare opportunity. For nearly two years, local amateur radio operators with ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) worked to make it happen. Indian Trails Middle School in Winter Springs was one of just 30 schools across the entire country selected.
“And we got bumped last fall because of our visitor, Hurricane Irma,” said amateur radio operator and Winter Springs City Commissioner Kevin Cannon.
But this week, they tried again.
“This is the future,” said Cannon. “STEM is the future for our nation, our city and our state, and this is critical why they get hands-on opportunities like this. It’s just critical.”
The ISS travels around the world about every 90 minutes, so the students’ window of time with an astronaut was short.
Roosa made the most of it.
“I was always asking when I was younger, 'what was grandpa like?'”
Roosa’s grandfather, Stuart Roosa, piloted Apollo 14 – the third mission to land on the moon. But he died before Roosa was born.
“I never had the chance to ask him, what is most beautiful thing about space? Over,” Roosa asked Aunon-Chancellor.
“Hi Barron, a pleasure to meet you today, and certainly I think what your grandfather would’ve told you the most absolutely beautiful thing to look at is the planet earth itself,” said Aunon-Chancellor.
For Shia Lorenzano, the experience breathed life into her dream of one day going into space.
“It makes me feel, especially since she’s female, that any female can go into space and experience the same thing as men,” said Lorenzano.
As the students’ jitters were starting to wear off, the ISS had soared many miles overhead and out of radio range. The call was over, but it was an experience the students will never forget.
“It’s something that I’m going to remember and cherish for a very long time,” said Lorenzano.
And Roosa might just follow in his grandfather’s footsteps one day.
“It would be cool to see zero-gravity, floating around, and I’ve always wanted to see water in a circle, not just splat,” said Roosa.