For the past eight months, students at Anacapa School got ready to talk with an astronaut hundreds of miles from Earth Wednesday.
“It’s part of a process that we’ve been going through at Anacapa School, to explore the importance of space exploration and sharing the magic of that with our students,” said Anacapa Headmaster Gordon Sichi.
As the International Space Station lined up just over Summerland, it was time to make contact.
The radio crackled, then astronaut Chris Cassidy came over the air. Then the students started asking questions.
“Hi, this is Timmy and I am wondering, as a kid did you always want to be an astronaut or when you grew up, were you planning on having a different career, over.”
“Oh, that’s a good question. When I was a kid when I was your age, I never even thought about being an astronaut. A lot of astronauts had dreamed about it from when they were young but I was a little different. It wasn’t something that I thought was possible for me. I never even considered it,” said Cassidy.
The out-of-this-world conversation was an eye opener for some students.
“I’ve never been a super sciency type so this was really cool to do. Science hasn’t always been my thing but it’s been really fun learning about this,” said Sam Robertson.
As students waiting in line got ready to ask a question, a larger group of students, parents and teachers listened in. Some of the questions hit home for some of the younger students.
“The question was, what’s the biggest thing you miss about Earth, and the answer was a big bowl of ice cream,” said Yahaira, a student at Summerland School.
“Hi, I’m Della and I was wondering, now that you’ve been in space, is there anywhere on Earth that you would like to visit in particular, over.”
“You know I was just thinking about that last week and New Zealand to me from up here looks like a fantastic place to visit,” said Cassidy.
“The idea is to expose students to things like this and they may decide that they have a particular interest in an area that they didn’t think they had until an event or program like this,” said Levi Maaia, teacher at Anacapa School.
The experience of talking to someone who is orbiting the planet was overwhelming for some.
“You know I’m talking to an astronaut! It’s like so cool,” said Allen Zhang.
The giant antenna rotated as the space station orbited over the area, giving the students just under 10 minutes of talk time. But then, the connection started to break up.
“I couldn’t hear you but thanks so much for being with me,” Cassidy said through heavy static. “Have a fantastic day in California.”