PEI

Students get unique chance to chat with Canadian astronaut in space

Students at Stonepark Intermediate School had a rare chance to connect with a Canadian astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

'It'd be something that I'd tell my grandkids or my kids about'

Students at Stonepark Intermediate in Charlottetown received a rare call from a Canadian astronaut on Friday. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

The atmosphere at Stonepark Intermediate School was out of this world on Friday. 

That's because students had a rare chance to connect with a Canadian astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

Students met two Canadian astronauts, one in person — Jeremy Hansen — and the other in outer space — David Saint-Jacques. 

Students had about 20 minutes to connect with Saint-Jacques from the International Space Station. They asked him questions ranging from climate change to space junk.

'We want to share the inspiration of space'

Hansen, one of the astronauts in attendance with the Canadian Space Agency, hopes the rare opportunity will inspire students to dream big. 

"I came across an image of astronauts standing on the moon and that just threw a switch in my brain and I thought wow that's incredible, we can do that," he said.

"And that's why we're here today. We want to share the inspiration of space." 

'Unbelievable'

Saint-Jacques is orbiting the Earth conducting experiments and helping to maintain the International Space Station.

For Grade 9 students Morgan Roberts and Ifra Zaidi, connecting with him was a thrill.

Grade 9 student Morgan Roberts says it was a once in a lifetime experience to speak with both astronauts. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)
 

"It'd be something that I'd tell my grandkids or my kids about; how I got to talk to a real astronaut and just kind of something to look back on in life, a bucket list sort of thing," said Morgan.

Ifra said she hopes other schools get to have a similar experience. 

'I never thought I would ever speak to an astronaut in my life, but today like the unbelievable happened. So anything could happen here,' says Grade 9 student Ifra Zaidi. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"It was really cool. I was like when I was talking he was responding. He said my name. And it was just so … unbelievable," she said.

After about 20 minutes Saint-Jacques bid the students farewell and launched himself out of view.

'Once in a lifetime'

The visit was all thanks to Sharna Reynard, a Grade 9 teacher at the school. She entered Stonepark into a Canadian Space Agency contest called Exploring Earth. 

She said she was not expecting the school to win.

Grade 9 teacher Sharna Reynard with astronaut Jeremy Hansen. Reynard entered the school in the contest. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," she said.

"It took some time to wrap our heads around exactly what kind of experience we were going to have, that we were having a live video call with an astronaut in the International Space Station."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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