EXCITED pupils at a Barnstaple primary school will be reaching for the stars next week when they make radio contact with spacemen orbiting hundreds of miles above the earth. Due to a special amateur radio hook-up, lucky youngsters at Pilton Bluecoat Schoo

EXCITED pupils at a Barnstaple primary school will be reaching for the stars next week when they make radio contact with spacemen orbiting hundreds of miles above the earth.Due to a special amateur radio hook-up, lucky youngsters at Pilton Bluecoat School will get the chance to have a live chat with an astronaut based on the International Space Station, at around 2.50pm on Friday, February 6.The conversation-of-a-lifetime is being made possible by means of an amateur radio station that will be set up at the school.The International Space Station is a research facility in low earth orbit, at around 250 miles above the plant's surface.It travels at more than 17,000 miles per hour, orbiting the planet every 100 minutes. On occasions can be seen from earth with the naked eye.For 25 years, amateur radio operators around the world have had the unique opportunity to be able to talk to both astronauts and cosmonauts in orbit as they go about their daily routines. The first conversations between astronauts in space and radio amateurs on earth began in 1983. Since then, they have been an integral part of most manned space missions. As well as enabling astronauts and cosmonauts to speak directly with the general public, amateur radio provides both back-up communications and a means for astronauts to keep in touch with their families.For more information on amateur radio and how to become a radio amateur, visit the RSGB website at www.rsgb.org or telephone (01234) 832700.