New Mexico students speak with astronauts aboard the International Space Station

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ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – NASA chose the Alamogordo school district for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Students had the chance to talk to astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

“I can hear you loud and clear, how do you hear me?” astronaut Scott Tingle said to the crowd of over 1,500.

It’s not every day you get to talk to an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

“Definitely once-in-a-lifetime,” said Christopher Vallejos, Alamogordo High School student.

Wednesday, students from Alamogordo Public Schools and New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, spoke with the astronauts in conjunction with the New Mexico Museum of Space.

The museum was one of just 14 groups nationwide chosen by NASA to participate in the program for Expedition 54 as part of the “Year of Education on Station.”

“I had the idea of having kids design and build simple pay loads, find a plain and give it two seconds of the equivalent of zero G so that they could start to learn the NASA design process, learn team work and learn what kind of research is being done on the space station,” explained Dave Dooling, Education Director at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.

Students were thrilled.

“I think it’s really actually a huge opportunity for a lot of the students here, because this doesn’t happen a lot here. Overall it’s been an amazing experience,” Vallejos said.

Not only has this sparked student’s interest when it comes to learning about space, but they’re also learning the importance of STEM.

“We’re a society of technology. We see and feel technology every single day, so being able to have an understanding and appreciation for and a mastery for science, technology, engineering and mathematics is the key for future successes of students here,” said John Olivas, former NASA astronaut.

Students heard all about life in space and had plenty of questions.

“It really inspired me. I’ve always liked space but I’ve never thought of it in this way. Knowing this, I am more interested in space and I am interested in becoming an astronaut,” said Jorge Quintanilla, Alamogordo High School student.

The students haven’t been able to test their projects yet because of weather, but they plan to have the results within the next few weeks.

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