Greetings from space
“Power your dreams and reach for the stars” urged US astronaut Leroy Chiao when speaking to Irish schoolchildren via radio just before Christmas. This was no ordinary link up; Leroy was speaking from space as he is at present on board the International Space Station together with Expedition 10 team member, Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov.
Irish schoolchildren from 10 primary schools had gathered together at University College Cork to speak live to the Space Station.
Among the guests were Irish Trade Minister Michael Ahern, ESA astronaut Jean François Clervoy and, given the time of year, Father Christmas. Santa gave all the children and teachers presents and also joined in the singing.
The children also had the chance to take parts in science entertainment, such as playing with a ‘tornado tube’ to demonstrate some of the properties of air and water.
“Watch thISS Space” was the third event that ESA, in the frame of the ISS Programme, has organised with ARISS, aimed at inspiring European schoolchildren to take a greater interest in space.
Previously live radio events have been organised for Dutch schoolchildren with ESA astronaut André Kuipers, part of the DELTA mission, and for Spanish schoolchildren with Pedro Duque, part of the Cervantes mission.
Part of their collaboration programme, ESA and ARISS will organise at least two live radio events in 2005, with schoolchildren from ESA Member States. The next one is currently planned for April 2005.
Among the interesting questions the children asked was one from Danielle: “What can you see when you look out the window of the space station?” Leroy’s reply: “You can see our beautiful Earth and cities and airports … I’m still trying to look for the Great Wall of China, I haven’t had any success yet but I’m still looking!”.
For the children the 15-minute radio contact came to an end much too soon. As they thanked Leroy by giving three very loud cheers, he wished them Merry Christmas, happy holidays and 73s – space talk for greetings.