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8 year old calls astronaut, ham radio iss
Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

Houston, no problems. Just chillin'.

Matt Payne, of Kent, England, and his 8-year-old daughter Isabella Payne share two distinct passions—outer space and amateur radio.

On Aug. 8, the daddy-daughter duo got to combine the two interests. The result was, dare I say, out of this world.


girl calls nasa, ham radio issIsabella, seen in space.Twitter

Using Matt’s ham radio, under the station name M0LMK, Isabella was able to place a call to another amateur radio station … one that just so happened to be onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Talk about a long-distance call.

On the other end of the line was astronaut Kjell Lindgren, commander of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4, who was more than happy to chat.

Matt posted a short audio clip of their sweet exchange on Twitter, where Isabella nails sounding out call signs before introducing herself.

"November, Alpha, One, Sierra, Sierra. Mike, Zero, Lima, Mike, Kilo … My name's Isabella, I'm 8 years old," the precocious young girl says confidently to Lindgren.

The astronaut, clearly charmed, answers back “Isabella, it's so great to chat with you, thank you for getting on the radio and saying hello," before signing off.

Matt later thanked Commander Lindgren, saying that “you have changed her world.”

He revealed that when Isabella was just 2 years old, she watched students speak with world-renowned astronaut Tim Peake. Since then she had wanted to have her own conversation with a space explorer.

“Today, she got her chance,” Matt wrote.

Lindgren replied saying that he’s had a “lot of fun” talking with other ham radios worldwide, but that his interaction with Isabella “may be my favorite contact so far.”

In an interview with NPR, Matt described how reaching Lindgren had been a result of meticulous timing with a dash of luck.

“First off, you need an astronaut that is in their own time choosing to use that equipment to talk to us operators down here on Earth. As well as that, you need to have the space station within a visual line of sight,” he explained.

Luckily, the planets aligned accordingly.

In the same interview, Isabella shared that her dream is to become a communications specialist at the Mission Control Center, mostly so she can “say stuff like - hello, is everything still floating around? And are you enjoying your food?” Clearly, she’s a natural and well on her way.

The ISS seems to be regularly making random contacts with hams all over the world, so if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of reaching out to space yourself, now’s your chance. Matt hopes that NASA schedules special times for the ISS to have similar conversations with other children, “since it brings so much joy and inspiration.”

There are so many amazing hobbies out there, but amateur radio takes the possibilities, as another beloved space traveler would say, ”to infinity and beyond.”

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