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Placer Sentinel

Local Girl Scouts Reach Outer Space!

Feb 28, 2024 12:22PM ● By Annie Kerr

Girl Scouts from Troops 793, 917, 1089, and 1105 smile before their big moment. Photo by Annie Kerr

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Wouldn’t it be fascinating to speak to an astronaut who’s currently in outer space? On the cloudless morning of Feb. 22, Girl Scout Troops 793, 917, 1089, and 1105 from Sacramento, Lodi, and Roseville had the extraordinary opportunity to make contact with the International Space Station (ISS). Via Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), the 13 Girl Scouts were able to reach NASA Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, who was traveling through space at approximately 17,000 miles per hour.

Jasmin Moghbeli

Jasmin Moghbeli. Photo courtesy of NASA

The event was held at the Sacramento Regional Program Center and STEM Center, home of the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California (GSHCC), and was bustling with camera crews, families, friends, and media. And cookies, of course.

Because the opportunity is so rare, the Girl Scouts were preparing since November for the event. Each Girl Scout prepared individual questions to ask Moghbeli, a very accomplished woman. Moghbeli is not only a NASA astronaut, but a United States Marine Corps test pilot, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate, a flight engineer, and the Mission Commander of SpaceX Crew #7. She is qualified to fly at least 25 different aircraft. Adding to her list of accomplishments, Moghbeli is the first professional Iranian American astronaut to fly to space. While on her space mission, Moghbeli spoke to the Girl Scouts for about 10 minutes until connection was lost.

Before the connection was established, the event began with comments from various speakers. Sue Richards and Amanda Bates, troop leaders for Troop 1089 and GSHCC volunteers, spoke briefly about how honored they were to have this opportunity and how it happened. According to Bates, there are only about 60 to 100 International Space Station contacts globally made per year, which is about two per week. In fact, the last two contacts occurred in Rome and Spain.

Next, Jennifer Garland spoke. Garland was the event’s primary volunteer and is a River City Amateur Radio Communications Society member. She helped prepare the Girl Scouts for the big day by helping them practice their media and public-speaking skills. Garland told the crowd what to expect for the rest of the event and answered audience questions until playing a short video before the big moment arrived.

Jennifer Garland

Jennifer Garland of RCARC explaining the process. Photo by Annie Kerr

In the video, a pre-recorded Jasmin Moghbeli told a little bit about her story. “I still wake up every morning and it feels like a pinch-me moment to think that I am actually an astronaut right now,” she said. Also on the TV screen was a map tracking the progress of the space station, coming closer and closer.

Girl Scouts contact

Camera crews surround the Girl Scouts as they line up to make contact. Photo by Annie Kerr

Girl Scouts astronaut

The Girl Scouts moments before contacting the astronaut. Photo by Annie Kerr

The time finally came to contact the astronaut: 10:24 a.m. precisely (as planned). A hush fell over the room as Garland began the countdown. Loud static could be heard, and then Moghbeli’s voice broke through, all the way from outer space, and the questions began. Each Girl Scout had the privilege of asking two questions before time ran out. 
Jasmin Moghbeli

Jasmin Moghbeli. Photo courtesy of NASA

To highlight some of the questions, Girl Scout Avery T. asked her what she is most excited for upon her return to Earth, to which Moghbeli responded, “My children, my husband, a shower with running water, and normal food.”

On the other hand, Elsa W., another Girl Scout, asked what Moghbeli will miss about space. Moghbeli replied that she would miss her six crewmates who she has grown close to, floating and flying around in space, and looking back at Earth from her vantage point.

space station TV

A TV was positioned in the room to track the progress of the space station. Photo by Annie Kerr 

Then, Girl Scout Edie B. asked for what advice Moghbeli would give to a girl wanting to be an astronaut, and she replied that space exploration is very challenging to get into and that failing is inevitable but failing is also OK. And realizing that failure is OK is the best way to keep moving forward with your dreams.

Next, Leia B., another Girl Scout, asked if Moghbeli believes in life beyond Earth and the astronaut said she does. “There’s just too much out there,” she said.

Jasmin Moghbeli Leia B Girl Scouts

Girl Scout Ambassador Leia B. asking Jasmin Moghbeli a question. Photo by Annie Kerr

Moghbeli continued to answer questions about what she does in her free time up in space, what she eats there, what the average workday looks like and if she would live on Mars.

Alyssa S. asked if she listens to music or podcasts in space. Moghbeli highlighted a few of her favorite artists she listens to: Hozier, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder.

Much was learned in such a short time span. Each question was well-executed, and the process went smoothly. The room erupted into cheers once the Girl Scouts wished Moghbeli a safe return to Earth and signed off.

After the call, each Girl Scout was handed a special badge to commemorate what they accomplished. Then, each Girl Scout, all in high school, took to the microphone to briefly discuss how this event might inspire them to study science and/or space exploration.

“Through events like this and other STEM programs, Girl Scouts is committed to helping our future female leaders become better problem-solvers, critical thinkers and gain the confidence to turn their ideas into breakthrough inventions to help others,” said Dr. Linda E. Farley, Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts Heart of Central California.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to helping young people see what they are capable of. Jasmin Moghbeli proved to the Girl Scouts that they can do anything they put their minds to…they can even go to outer space.