Having students talk to an astronaut on the space station is just one of the ways that a local radio club is encouraging young people to take an interest in space and science.
At Rainbow Middle School in Gadsden, Alabama, students had a treat scheduled for their first day back to school after winter holidays. They were scheduled to interview astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough during a school assembly. But Kimbrough wasnt going to be at the school. He was going to be aboard the International Space Station, speeding at 17,000 miles per hour.
The Gadsden Amateur Radio Club operated and provided the radio equipment putting students in contact with the ISS as it moved over the USA. Some of the setup was complicated, but the main tool used by members was a two way radio, which any radio operator can tune into the station signal. Members found the whole project exciting.
The path of the ISS was projected onto a large screen as it moved over the United States. As it passed over a small cross that marked Rainbow City, the students were able to contact the station.
Students had many questions for Kimbrough. He was asked what he was thinking during the time leading up to launch, and if he felt any pain on liftoff. They also asked if activities were more difficult in gravity or zero gravity.
“You can’t just expect to put things down and have them there when you come back,” replied Kimbrough. He told the students that he felt no pain on launch, and felt he was right where he wanted to be.