It was an out of this world experience for a group of Ottawa students.
As students become used to learning and connecting virtually through technology, on Friday, seventeen students with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board used radio waves to connect live with the International Space Station.
They had an opportunity to ask questions to Mike S. Hopkins, as he was high above the earth.
Connecting through amateur radio, students asked a variety of questions during an approximately 10-minute window. NASA says that as the space station travels at approximately eight kilometres per second, communication is only possible as the station is above our horizon.
"How does it feel to see the sun, earth, moon and stars from space?" asked Sham.
"It doesn’t seem real. I have to pinch myself every morning, because it’s amazing to me that I’m actually up in space orbiting the earth 250 miles up or 400 kilometres — over," replied Hopkins.
"This is Alex, do you think extraterrestrial beings exist?” asked another student.
"It’s hard to believe that there are not extraterrestrial beings out there, with the billions and billions of stars that are there; so, I think there’s a likelihood, over," replied Hopkins.
NASA selected Michael S. Hopkins as an astronaut in 2009. The Missouri native is currently serving as Commander on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, which launched Nov. 15, 2020, according to the NASA website.
The event took place for online learning students, and during COVID-19, it’s a topic that was asked by one student..
"Hello, this is Rowan. Is COVID-19 a concern for astronauts?”
Hopkins replied, “COVID-19 is absolutely a concern for astronauts; fortunately, all of us up here, though, we know that we don’t have COVID-19, so we’re pretty safe up here - but, when we return to earth, we have to be very careful - and, before we launch we have to protect ourselves by going into what we call quarantine."
Six-year-old Samantha told CTV News Ottawa the question and answer session with the astronaut, "was just awesome."
Ottawa Carleton Virtual School and NASA teacher co-ordinator Lori McFarlane says the 10-minute session was a success.
"I’ve had so many emailing saying that this was the highlight of the kids’ week, they just found it so interesting to be able to listen to an astronaut and hear what he has to say about the space station," said McFarlane. "For some of them, it will ignite their interest in science and technology, and perhaps even space exploration or becoming an astronaut."