In September 2018, Walford Anglican School for Girls made contact with American astronaut, Ricky Arnold, aboard the International Space Station (ISS) some 400 kilometres above Santa Rosa, California.
The radio call had been made possible via satellite link up with ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station).
The call to the space station involved 18 months of preparation and there was no guarantee that contact would be made.
It was a relief and a privilege to hear Arnold’s voice and witness the expectant delight on hundreds of parents’ and children’s faces when they heard the astronaut respond to questions asked by Walford students.
“Students listened to somebody who advocated a strong interest in science, technology, engineering and maths and was prepared to step outside of his comfort zone,” said principal Rebecca Clarke.
“It was a strong message to our girls that anything is possible and to promote female involvement in STEM careers. This incredible experience will have a lasting impact.”
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Arnold explained how life in microgravity, “Can be challenging when things float away so easily.”
His comments imparted a deeper message on the audience about how we live our lives on Earth.
“Looking at our beautiful fragile planet,” he said in closing, “It’s really only all we have.”
As the ISS left the horizon and communication was lost, the audience was reminded of the illuminating beauty of our precious planet and inspired by the anticipation of future advancements in space technology, perhaps involving them in years to come.
The evening, ultimately, was about taking a risk, stepping into the unknown, calling out into the darkness and hearing a voice at the other end.
The evening was live streamed on the school’s Facebook page.
For more information find Walford Anglican School for Girls on Facebook or go to www.walford.net.au