Not many of us can say we’ve spoken to an astronaut, much less to one floating in space.
On Monday, a group of Palm Beach County students experienced a special treat that’s out of this world.
As the International Space Station flew 250 miles above the Earth, 11 students in grade two through 12 had the chance to speak with an astronaut one on one using amateur radio technology at the South Florida Science Center .
The center’s Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) essay contest selected the students after they wrote a creative essay about what they would ask an astronaut if they had the chance.
Italian Astronaut and engineer Paolo Nespoli answered questions Monday morning as the space station orbited over Georgia and Florida at 17,600 miles per hour within close range to a radio signal.
The ARISS was able to set up a radio to connect with the astronaut and the students only had an eight minute window to ask their questions.
"We went to manual control. We had one person actually steering the antenna to point at the satellite, and the person sitting behind me was changing the radio frequencies," said Jim Nagle, who helped set up and operate the radio transmission.
Sixth grader Isabella Swiger, Nagle's own granddaughter, had the chance to ask whether or not astronauts do laundry.
"He said that they do not do laundry because its difficult with the dryers and washers, they just throw it out," she told WPTV after the presentation. "It was just like, mind-blowing because you can never experience something like that."
"When we drive around in the car, do different things I always make her crazy because I'm always asking the questions so it's a learning experience," said Swiger's grandfather, Nagle.
The event coincided with the Science Center’s newest exhibit, Astronaut, which allows visitors to experience life on board the International Space Station. The exhibit is open until April 22, 2018.