Saturday , September 25 2021

Adelaide students connect to International Space Station after false alarm cancels previous call

Students on the northern outskirts of Adelaide have managed to talk to International Space Station (ISS) astronauts two weeks after their hearts sank when their call went unanswered.

The group of students who met last night at Mawson Lakes School were able to ask several questions to Shannon Walker, the American wife of Adelaide-born astronaut Andy Thomas.

NASA said the astronauts were unable to answer the previous call because “a series of false alarms sounded on board.”

While it can usually take more than a year to arrange a school call to the ISS, the return call only took fifteen days.

A girl wearing a school suit sits at a table with a man and a clipping of an astronaut and a screen showing the earth
Mawson Lakes School student Aazeen Haider (left) talks to astronaut Shannon Walker with the help of a radio operator.(



Mawson Lakes School student Aazeen Haider said it was “a lot of fun” to hear Dr. Walker after the previous disappointment.

He said that one day he would like to be an astronaut or pediatrician.

A woman wearing blue gowns
Shannon Walker and three other astronauts boarded the SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station in November.(

Supplied by NASA


Aazeen asked Dr. Walker how much fun astronauts had in space.

Dr. Walker said the ISS room was not really that small.

“We have seven people here, so it’s like having a large family … We listen to music, we can watch TV shows, so it’s like spending time with your family,” he said.

Other students asked about protecting the ISS from radiation, how being in space affects your body, how astronauts do exercise, and how they wash their hair.

A meeting of school students.
Students who met at Mawson Lakes on March 24th.(



One student asked if Dr. Walker had ever seen an alien.

“I’ve never seen any alien creatures. It would be a lot of fun if I did,” Dr. Walker said.

He said no research had been done on COVID-19 in space, as it took time to consider and organize experiments to reach the ISS.

Principal David Coles said students were excited when Dr. Walker answered the call.

“Shannon Walker was able to answer the call, which was fantastic: lots of mixed emotions of relief and euphoria once she answered,” he said.

The University of South Australia helped organize the call between the students and the ISS.

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