WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was a big moment at The Big E Tuesday for a select group of young STEM students who made contact with astronauts on the International Space Station.

It was an out of this world experience that was months in the making for students from New England Sci-Tech. They conducted a live space-chat with astronauts on the International Space Station, 260 miles above the Earth.

“The space station has to be flying over one of our ground stations… this one happened to be in Belgium,” said Bob Phinney, President of New England Sci-Tech. He told 22News, “The time was just perfect. So the students got exactly ten minutes to get up and talk.”

And those ten minutes were not wasted. The STEM students of the ARRIS program were prepared with an array of questions about life in space.

“All the new opportunities that there are about new discoveries, new planets, and even new life,” said 11-year-old Harish Sathishkaumar.

Jack Warren told 22News, “What fascinates me the most is the unknown…. There is just so much to learn!”

“So I asked what part of the astronaut training program was most mentally or physically strenuous? It takes a lot of work to be an astronaut,” said Mei Dasgupta.

And taking an interest in space, science, and math is what leaders of the ARRIS program hope they continue to see among students.

“The best thing about this work is that we probably changed one or two lives today,” said Fred Kimmer, a mentor for the ARRIS program. “The biggest takeaway from this momentous day; always to reach for the stars.”

Schools can apply for the ARRIS program. For more information, click here.