Naomi Antler, in Grade 6 at Uplands Elementary School in Penticton, and Ben Lee, in Grade 3, hold up cards showing their questions for Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield on Friday.
Ground control to Col. Chris Hadfield.
A group of students from Uplands Elementary School in Penticton had the chance to launch questions at Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut aboard the International Space Station, in a live interview-type session Friday.
An estimated 450 students from surrounding schools, including Penticton's West Bench Elementary and others from Oliver and Keremeos, listened intently while the ham radio interview was conducted as Hadfield travelled at a speed of 28,000 km/h.
Hadfield's five-month mission began Dec. 19, 2012, when he and crew members Tom Marshburn of the U.S.A. and Roman Romanenko of Russia rocketed off the earth on their journey to the space station.
Hadfield is the first Canadian to command a space mission. The crew is conducting scientific experiments, operating Canada Arm 2 and performing robotic tasks.
Grade 3 student Ben Lee asked what type of hospital is on board the space station and what happens if anyone becomes ill.
"Everybody's trained as a medical technician," answered Hadfield, noting that "if someone got really sick, then we would leave the station and go home."
The youngster described talking to someone in outer space as "amazing, because you get to know someone else who looked at mysteries and solved mysteries."
Naomi Antler, in Grade 6, admitted she had trouble sleeping the night before the interview and was nervous before taking the microphone to ask Hadfield her question: "Do you sleep well on the space station?"
He told her to imagine what it would be like if she were able to relax every muscle in her body and not have to worry about rolling over to get into a more comfortable position or worry about having to hold her head up, and to be able to just float weightlessly in the air.
Grade 2 student Charlotte Foster asked if Hadfield missed the sound of birds singing and chirping.
Hadfield said one of his friends converted some songs into MP3 files, so whenever he gets homesick for the sounds of nature, he listens to one of the files.
Some of the other questions: How do you avoid asteroids? Do the windows freeze up? What is the most beautiful or interesting part of the world to view from space?
Contact between the students and Hadfield was made possible by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, which is an international working group of the amateur satellite service, as well as the Canadian Space Agency and Penticton residents.
The crew's scheduled touchdown date is May 14.