Detroit high school students speak with an astronaut that is currently orbiting earth

Only eight schools nationally were selected for the extraordinary opportunity

DETROIT – It was no ordinary day for Davis Aerospace Technical High School students who got a chance to speak with an astronaut who’s currently orbiting the earth.

Students have been preparing for this day for weeks.

“First, we had to find our questions and then research them to make sure they’re good questions,” said Eric Williams.

“Even though we’ve been preparing, it’s like a bit nerve-racking because I don’t want to mess up or anything,” said Demetria Story.

The students asked STEM questions to the astronaut who was onboard the International Space Station.

“My question was, ‘How long will the batteries last without a charge’ because I was like, ‘How long will they charge,’” said Brianna Thompson.

“How many people in this world know someone that gets to speak to an astronaut,” said teacher Janine Scott. “I know 14 people that get to speak to an astronaut today.”

The Detroit high school connected to the International Space Station with an assist from the Hazel Park Amateur Radio Club and the Tuskegee Airman.

“We will able to by using our radios here and the antenna on the roof of the building,” said William Tony Stevenson of next-generation Tuskegee Airman. “We will communicate with the International Space Station.”

“The antennas will track that station as it goes over the horizon,” said Mike Phipps, Hazel Park Amateur Radio Club.

“This is the speed that the International Space Station is traveling, 17,000 mph, and we’re talking about an altitude of 270 miles,” Stevenson said.

The moment all of the students have finally been waiting for came to fruition. One by one, eager radio club members asked Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata their questions.

The Q and A that lasted 10 minutes ended with huge applause, but it is an experience that will last for a lifetime.

“It was really exciting to talk to him,” Story said. “It was life-changing.”

“Some of those questions that we asked we Googled, and he still answered them,” said Asir Baruti.

“I was a little nervous, so I didn’t hear my answer, said Anthony.

“I’m going to be bragging about it to my entire family,” Williams said. “It’s like a life experience.”

Only eight schools nationally were selected for the extraordinary opportunity, and Detroit was one of them, which is a win for the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.