Leuven students had contact with De Winne

On Friday afternoon primary school students got the opportunity to speak with astronaut Frank De Winne. The direct link with the International Space Station was made with the help of radio amateurs. Frank De Winne answered 22 questions on a range of subjects. The children wanted to know more about what life is like in outer space.
The contact via the so-called 'tele-bridge' took place in the framework of the international ARISS amateur radio programme. The tele-bridge connection was set up for contact between primary school students of the Terbank-Egenhoven school in Heverlee (near Leuven, in Flemish Brabant).
The amateur radio group has set up direct radio links between schools and the International Space Station before. This was the first time however that Frank De Winne (archive photo) spoke with a Belgian school since he left for his 6 months mission aboard the ISS on 27 May.

According to Miguel Chevalier, spokesman for the Flemish Minister responsible for scientific policy Patricia Ceysens (Flemish liberal), the contact via the amateur radio connection went "technically perfect".

De Winne was very punctual

The students awaited contact with the Belgian astronaut with bated breath. They first watched the ISS come flying into place at exactly the planned time for contact with the Belgian in space at 13.38 sharp.
"There's not a bus in Flanders that is as punctual as the ISS," joked Miguel Chevalier. During the question and answer session between Frank De Winne and the Flemish primary students the ISS was flying at a height of 335 kilometres over Belgium and at a speed of 28,000 kilometres/hour.

By the end of the conversation the ISS was already flying over Turkey. The question and answer session had to go very quickly because radio contact could only be sustained for about 10 minutes.

The Belgian astronaut was able to answer 22 questions.

"Can you scratch your nose with a space suit on?"

The questions varied from the 'classics' such as how they go to the toilet, how they eat and how they wash their clothes, to whether it would be possible to grow sunflowers on the ISS, what they do if they have to wear glasses or contact lenses, or what they do if they have to scratch their nose while wearing a space suit.

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