South African Learners Get to Chat Live to an Astronaut in Space, Today!


ssf89While some kids in junior school can only dream of chatting live to an astronaut who is actually on the International Space Station (ISS), these learners from South Africa will get to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This group of learners from Sol Plaatjie Primary School in Mafikeng, a small town in South Africa, are also the winning team of the 2014 National AstroQuiz and now they get to reap the rewards. The learners’ school also happens to be one of the schools in the country that have a keen interest in space.


This month, these school learners will get to chat to the first Italian woman in space, Samantha Christoforetti, who is also the third female astronaut in the European Space Agency. The learners are expected to ask Christoforetti about life in space, her experiences as a female astronaut and astronomy as a whole.samantha-cristoforetti

This lifetime opportunity to communicate with “Futura” (the longstanding mission of the Italian and European Space Agencies on the ISS) is being made possible by the Italian Embassy in Pretoria with the help of Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) and the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA).

Today the 2nd of May, the school children will telecommute with the astronaut from their school hall. This will happen through one of the many ground stations covering the world, stations that are maintained and operated by skilled amateur radio volunteers.

These are South Africa’s future innovators, engineers and astronauts! Well done to the school and to the Italian Embassy for making this possible for the children.