When you are young a lot of us wanted to grow up to be astronauts. We'd explore the galaxy like Captain Kirk or Picard and befriend aliens and robots. Ok so we aren't anywhere near that type of space travel, but a group of Central Minnesota students will have an out-of-this-world experience tomorrow when they get to talk to astronauts located at the International Space Station!

The students from five area middle and high schools in central Minnesota will be speaking with Expedition 54 astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle aboard the space station, posing questions about life aboard the orbital outpost, NASA’s deep space exploration plans, and doing science in space at 12:35 p.m. tomorrow Feb. 20. The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The event is being hosted by the College of Saint Benedict (CSB), in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and Saint John’s University (SJU), located in nearby Collegeville, Minnesota.

Vande Hei is an SJU alumni. He arrived at the space station on Sept.12 and will return to Earth later this month. Tingle arrived Dec.19 and is scheduled to return to Earth in June.

Students across the participating Central Minnesota school districts have been preparing for the event by studying the space station, astronaut biographies, and incorporating rockets and space station-focused physics lessons into the curriculum, as well as hosting an Engineering Design Competition.

Talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity!