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Pocahontas County school gets out-of-world opportunity with space chat


GREEN BANK, W.Va. — Students at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School in Pocahontas County had an out-of-this-world experience on Friday morning. 

Through a program by Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), students contacted astronaut Mark Vande Hei on the International Space Station (ISS). Vande Hei, who was born in Virginia then raised in New Jersey and Minnesota, spoke to the students for around 10 minutes until the signal disappeared as the ISS traveled from horizon to horizon. 

A student named Dillon made the call to Vande Hei with a special code and got through after several attempts. From there, the students asked questions to Vande Hei including one from Dillon about if he had ever lost communication with base. 

“Actually very routinely we have a loss of signal or LOS where we can’t talk to the ground control team,” Vande Hei said from space. “A lot of times it’s only 20 seconds but sometimes it’s 10 minutes. If it happens unexpectedly we do have a procedure to follow to reestablish communication.” 

Aiden asked the astronaut a question about what he could see from the space station that he couldn’t see from Earth. 

“Some things I have seen from the space station that I have never seen from the Earth is the thinness of the atmosphere. From outer space, it looks like the Earth has a delicate thin layer of atmosphere that we take for granted,” Vande Hei said. 

“I’ve seen meteorites burn up in the atmosphere.” 

Read more about the chat on Metro News: