International Space Station

Students at Macanoquah Elementary will make contact with an astronaut on the International Space Station in August. NASA image

BUNKER HILL – Kids at Maconaquah Elementary School will get the chance to make a call to outer space.

The school was recently chosen as one of 12 organizations in the U.S. to make contact with the International Space Station in August.

Fifth grade teacher Cassandra Knolinski applied for the chance to talk to an astronaut through an organization called Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) after she received her HAM radio license.

The ARISS program was created and is managed by an international consortium of amateur radio and space agencies, including NASA, to allow students all over the world to experience the excitement of talking directly with crew members on the International Space Station, according to its website.

Knolinski said she was encouraged to file the application by Miami County Amateur Radio President Bill McAlpin.

“It took about two months to hear that we were finally accepted,” she said. “I screamed with excitement. … Talk about a dream come true.”

Knolinski said she is excited for her students to experience this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“Ten of our students will be able to talk to the Russian Cosmonaut on board the ISS,” she said. “I hope this will inspire students to think about all they can do and dream big. To say that you have talked to an astronaut in space is a big deal. Not very many people can say that they have done that.”

The Miami County HAM Radio Club, represented by McAlpin, will provide and set up the communication equipment required to make proper contact with the station.

Assistant Superintendent James Callane said Purdue University has granted about $4,000 to purchase the equipment required to make the call.

Principal Kelly McPike said the event will give students an experience not many kids get.

“This will, no doubt, become a childhood memory for our kids — a memory not many elementary students across the planet will have,” she said.

Although Mac El students will be the ones talking directly to the ISS, a live feed of the event will be broadcast to each Maconaquah school building, as well as online.

“We are beyond excited and plan to stream this event online to our entire community,” Callane said. “It will be a great day to be a Brave.”

An exact date and time will be announced closer to the event, Knolinski said.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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