Tulsa students chat with astronauts aboard the International Space Station

Wednesday, December 22nd 2004, 10:09 am
By: News On 6

The dream of becoming an astronaut is alive and well in Green Country. Tulsa students were given a chance Wednesday morning to reach for the stars. And the best part of the experience, the stars were talking back.

News on 6 reporter Omar Villafranca says some students got the chance of a lifetime Wednesday. They got to have a question and answer session with two real astronauts, traveling 250 miles up in space.

The Tulsa Air and Space Museum teamed up with the Tulsa Repeater Organization, a group amateur radio operators to make contact. The astronauts are in the International Space Station orbiting earth. And while talking to someone in space may seem "out of this world", the distance isn't the big problem.

Kevin Conklin, Tulsa Repeater Organization:" The difficulty is that the targets moving. That's where the big challenge comes in. Our antennae system is actually hooked up to a computer that has tracking software that actually tracks the satellite as it moves through the sky."

Since the astronauts circle the earth every 90 minutes, students only have 10 minutes to ask questions. But to these kids it was worth it. Wyatt Bonicelli, student: "It was real fun because they're in space." Wyatt’s mother Michelle Bonicelli: "He's been at space camp here for three years, so he was asked to come and talk to the astronauts. So he was pretty excited, a little nervous, but he was excited. I'm proud."

The International Space Station will be visible to the naked eye this weekend and into next week. According to Sky and Telescope magazine, you may be able to see the space station whiz past Tulsa on Christmas Eve at about 6:59 AM. But look fast because it will be gone in less than a minute.

Don't worry, if you miss it then, NASA says you can see it again December 26th and 27th. Once again, it will only be visible for a few minutes.