Get Ready for Lift-Off!

On December 10, 2020, Nettleton STEAM Intermediate School students prepared for a once in a lifetime experience. Students in grades 3-6 science classes had a conversation with the astronauts aboard the International Space Station through a shared downlink.

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What is a Downlink?

The International Space Station has been home for astronauts living and working in space since November 2000. Downlink communications are a regular occurrence for the men and women aboard, almost that entire time. Space Station downlinks are a lot like the video conferences or phone calls we’re all accustomed to – except downlink signals are carried through outer-space satellites rather than the cell towers and phonelines we use every day!

What Makes Our Downlink So Special?

While the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are accustomed to sharing downlinks with different organizations here on Earth – no one has ever communicated with the Space Station directly from Arkansas – until now!

In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of astronauts living and working continuously aboard the International Space Station, NASA offered the chance for young astronauts here on Earth to earn the opportunity to communicate with the scientists currently aboard.

Working with partners from A-State in Jonesboro, as well as the Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, Nettleton STEAM Intermediate School went to work applying for the opportunity.

And they won!

Watch it All from Mission Control on Arkansas PBS!

On December 10th the satellites aligned and Arkansas PBS was there to capture the magic of the downlink. We featured opening remarks from former President Bill Clinton and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, as well as space-inspired art and music created by Nettleton STEAM students.

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