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8-year-old girl in Kent, England, has an out of this world story to tell her friends


Many kids seize an opportunity to send a text message or call somebody. An 8-year-old girl in Kent, England, went farther, right off the planet. She talked with an astronaut traveling 250 miles above her on the International Space Station.


She did this using her dad's ham radio. Amateurs buy equipment and talk on the radio spectrum to whoever might be out there. Isabella's dad, Matt, had been listening for weeks to astronaut Kjell Lindgren.

MATTHEW PAYNE: 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.

INSKEEP: Line of sight. Matt heard Commander Lindgren identify himself with his unique call sign just as the space station orbited over the U.K.'s part of the world. Isabella had gone to bed.

ISABELLA PAYNE: When Daddy called for me, my head voice was like, why did you wake me up? I need my beauty sleep.

PAYNE: I brought her into the office here where all the kit is, put her on my knee and held the microphone up in front of her. And I didn't even have to tell her what to do. She instinctively just went with it. And off she went.

UNIDENTIFIED ASTRONAUT: Mike. Zero. Lima. Mike. This is NA1SS. Welcome to the International Space Station.

ISABELLA: November. Alfa. One. Sierra. Sierra. My name is Isabella. I'm 8 years old. You're fiver-nine. Thank you.


MARTIN: Isabella says she now wants her own career in space exploration.

ISABELLA: I think I want to be a communications specialist at Mission Control so I can say stuff like this to the astronauts - hello, is everything still floating around? And are you enjoying your food?

INSKEEP: Apparently, the ham radio operator would like to get back on the radio and ham it up. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.