AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A very special day for Augusta Prep students. You could call it an ‘out of this world’ experience.

This morning, students had the chance to speak with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. 

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station- or ARISS- made contact with NASA Astronaut Steve Bowen while in orbit.

Students had the chance to speak directly to Bowen and learn about his journeys as an astronaut.

“It was so exciting to talk to the astronaut on the ISS,” said student Kemp Badger. 

Licensed amateur radio operator, Daryl Young, showed us just how a connection could be made with the International Space Station, which travels 17,500 miles per hour to stay in orbit. 

“As we were talking about the ISS image- that was also controlling a router that’s pointing the antenna,” said Young.

“There’s no better feeling than seeing the excitement on kids’ faces and doing this,” said Young.

A new science and engineering building with state-of-the-art facilities is on its way on Augusta Prep’s campus, and teachers at the school say Thursday’s event is the perfect way to launch the new space. 

And the work doesn’t stop there. 

“We have some of our middle schoolers working with the Growing Beyond Earth program, where students get to partner with NASA and do real research on growing food in space,” said Mary White, a technology teacher at Augusta Prep. “And, beyond that, we’re working with a team of students in middle and upper school to design and, hopefully, launch a CubeSat, which is a small research satellite.”

ARISS Educational Ambassador, Martha Muir, says there are a number of ARISS contacts happening across Georgia.

“Here’s a way to say, ‘hey, we want you’,” said Muir. “This is something that you can do. It’s fun. It’s good. And you’ll have a good life.”

A former school teacher herself, Muir tells us she will always make time to bring experiences like this to the kids.

“That’s something that they’re never going to forget,” said Muir. “I love the smiles.”

“I got this when I was talking to the astronaut, after,” said Badger. “This badge. I’m gonna hold on to it until I’m a grown-up.”

Badger tells us he wants to build spacecrafts when he’s a grown-up.

Augusta Prep’s new STEM building is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.