Astronaut Tim Peake impressed with St Albans pupils after International Space Station contact

PUBLISHED: 20:17 14 January 2016 | UPDATED: 20:17 14 January 2016

The main communication desk at the event at Sandringham School as they prepare to make contact with Astronaut Tim Peake on the International Space Station

The main communication desk at the event at Sandringham School as they prepare to make contact with Astronaut Tim Peake on the International Space Station

Archant

Sandringham School in St Albans has invited Tim Peake to visit them after he returns to Earth.

Astronaut Tim Peake tweets Sandringham School pupils. Photo courtesy Twitter/@astro_timpeake Astronaut Tim Peake tweets Sandringham School pupils. Photo courtesy Twitter/@astro_timpeake

Down-to-earth astronaut Tim Peake not only helped St Albans pupils make history by chatting live via amateur radio while aboard the International Space Station (ISS) - he also phoned the secondary school’s headteacher to praise their efforts.

Space history was made at Sandringham School last Friday (8), when its students became the first in the UK to speak live with the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut.

And then he stunned its headteacher Alan Gray by later phoning him while orbiting earth, hundreds of kilometres away, to praise his pupils.

In front of visiting television crews, unfazed pupils quizzed Tim - after contacting him on amateur radio - on a range of scientific questions, in line with the experiments he is conducting while on the station.

And after the media contingent had left, Tim made a surprise follow-up call to Alan, who said: “It was great to get a phone call from an astronaut. He phoned me at about 12.50pm – it wasn’t pre-arranged, but he knew my mobile number.

“Tim is a normal guy, doing his thing, and he said ‘thanks very much for the contact’. Tim could hear us all loud and clear; he said he really enjoyed the contact, and he was very impressed with our students.

“Then I thanked him for the job he does in space, and promoting science and technology. We had a conversation for about three-to-four minutes. At the end of it, I said that when he is back on Earth, we would love to have a visit from him in person.”

Sandringham was one of 10 schools shortlisted for direct contact with Tim after a competition was run in collaboration between the UK Space Agency, the ESA and the Radio Society of Great Britain.

The latter organisation worked with Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) for the Q&A event.

ARISS team leader Ciaran Morgan told pupils and teachers: “In the amateur radio world, you have made history at Sandringham today, because for the first time ever a British radio amateur has spoken to the International Space Station, with a British astronaut.”

Radio Verulam in St Albans relayed the live amateur radio link-up. You can listen to the broadcast at http://ow.ly/WQmUa or by visiting www.radioverulam.com

For information on the ‘home of amateur radio in St Albans, Verulam Amateur Radio Club (VARC) which worked with Sandringham School pupils in preparation for the contact, please see www.verulam-arc.org.uk/

Radio Verulam interviewed VARC chairman David Thomas on air this morning (January 14) about the contact and the role VARC played in training student Jessica Leigh to qualify as a radio amateur.

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