Students at The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, in live link with International Space Station

PUBLISHED: 16:14 09 May 2016 | UPDATED: 12:33 10 May 2016

Astronaut Tim Peake makes contact with Kings School in Ottery. Ref sho 19-16TI 0630. Picture: Terry Ife

Astronaut Tim Peake makes contact with Kings School in Ottery. Ref sho 19-16TI 0630. Picture: Terry Ife


Ground control to Major Tim - ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to chat with British astronaut

Astronaut Tim Peake makes contact with Kings School in Ottery. Ref sho 19-16TI 0597. Picture: Terry IfeAstronaut Tim Peake makes contact with Kings School in Ottery. Ref sho 19-16TI 0597. Picture: Terry Ife

Students from The King’s School experienced a ‘once in a lifetime’ talk with British astronaut Tim Peake via radio link to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Ottery St Mary school was one of just ten successful sites from across the country selected to host the live – and final - link-up that took place today (Monday) at 10.26am.

Pupils, parents, press, teachers, governors and space experts packed into the main hall to witness history in the making as ten lucky students presented questions to the astronaut while the ISS passed overhead.

The exciting project was a joint collaboration between the UK Space Agency, the Radio Society of Great Britain and the European Space Agency, supported by Amateur Radio on the ISS (ARISS).

Ciaran Morgan, team lead UK ARISS coordinator, described the live link-up as ‘nothing more than a humongous experiment’ as he talked people through the equipment – especially the critical radio used to speak to Major Tim Peake.

Year 13 student Matt Ilsley passed his foundation radio licence especially for the moment and held his cool as – after much anticipation - he made first contact with the British astronaut.

The group of students clearly posed their questions to Major Peak – with topics ranging from the practical, to the scientific, to the philosophical.

Sixth former Elizabeth asked: “From your elevated advantage point looking down on Earth, has your perception of the events on our planet, such as conflicts and wars, been altered? Does the change in perception give any insight that we could learn from?”

Major Peake said: “That’s a great question and we have got a very different perspective. We appreciate the planet a whole lot more. It gives you a different perspective on our planet and huge appreciation for how fragile it is.”

The spaceman admitted he struggled with maths when he was in school and had to receive extra help with the subject.

He told students: “If you are struggling with something stick with it.”

The audience heard Major Peake describe the ‘spectacular’ sunrise and sunsets from space and his hopes that there will be an observation module set up on the moon so astronauts can return for longer spells.

Before ending the link, Major Peake thanked everybody involved for their help in the mission and students for their great questions.

Summing up the event, head girl at The King’s School, Millie Perkins, said: “We have just experienced something amazing and to you younger years, this will be a highlight of your time here at King’s. I feel very privileged to have experienced it. This is something that we will remember about King’s for the rest of our lives.”

Head boy James Branson issued many thanks to all who made the day possible, including representatives from the school, Goonhilly Earth Station and ARISS.

Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) leader Alison Argent-Wenz was presented with a bunch of flowers and special thanks.

It was Miss Agent-Wenz who spear-headed the whole project and - along with a member of Sidmouth Amateur Radio Society, Mike Marsh – put forward a proposal for a two-day Space-STEM event surrounding contact with the ISS.

Speaking to Miss Argent-Wenz, Millie added: “Without you, all the people in this room would not have experienced this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Read the full story in the Sidmouth Herald on Friday, May 13.

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