Pinson Valley High School students are working on a project that is simply out of this world.
On April 10 around 1 p.m., a select group of 15 students will use an amateur radio system to make contact with the International Space Station. They will be the first high school students in the state to do so.
Once the students make contact, they will have a 10-minute window to interview astronaut Richard Robert “Ricky” Arnold II as the ISS passes over the state of Alabama.
Each student plans to as Arnold a question.
“I’m really excited,” Marlene Martinez, a sophomore, said. “I’ve been telling my friends about this and this is all I talk about. I’m just really excited.”
Martinez plans to ask Arnold what the “scariest” part about space travel (i.e. the launch, living onboard the ISS, or the re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
English teacher Jennifer Moore has been working with the selected students.
She said the students came together from different classes to make this dream a reality. For example, science students formulated questions and English students reviewed them, edited them and selected the best ones.
Sophomore Tori Rainwater said she hopes other young women will feel empowered to explore their interests in space and science.
“I feel like women can get out there and they can do it too,” Rainwater said. “So you just have to get out there and show that you can do it too. Like everybody else, we all have equal opportunities.”
Students will use the high school auditorium to set up their equipment for the big day. The Palmerdale Fire Department helped them install an antenna on the school roof to help their amateur radio signal reach the amateur radio onboard the ISS.
Moore said local city leaders have been invited to the big day. Those invited should be seated before 12:30 p.m. April 10th.