Hundreds of schoolgirls were part of history tonight as their school became the first in the world to make video contact with the International Space Station.

The Royal Masonic School in Rickmansworth was chosen as one of ten schools to establish contact with British astronaut Major Tim Peake.

And tonight, girls from the school asked the British astronaut – the first to board the ISS – questions about his life and work in space.

It was the first time a video link had been established between a school and the space station.

Ciaran Morgan, a volunteer from Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, which uses radio technology to set up these experiences, said: “The video was new and tonight, that was a world first.

“It was the first time amateurs have created the system, linked to the international space and then used it. It was also the first time the International Space Station connected with a school by video.

“We do this sort of thing to inspire students. What we have is the ability to give students something that they will remember for the rest of their lives, but hopefully it will also help them to move into science as a career.

“To be part of this project is just phenomenal.”

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Major Peake was the first British astronaut to have performed a space walk outside the ISS.

Twelve-year-old Jane Williamson, from Northwood, asked Major Peake what the hardest thing was adjusting to life on the International Space Station.

She said: “It was an absolutely amazing experience, especially as we are the first school to make video-link. It was incredible to see him answering the questions that we were putting to him.

“The fact we have all been able to do something like this at school is just amazing.”

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Eva Opoku, 12, from Maple Cross, said: “I was very honoured to have had this opportunity. I will never have an opportunity like this again.

“Major Peake was an amazing guy and we could hear his answers really clearly.”

Headteacher Diana Rose said: “It was an extraordinary night.

“I am so proud our submission was accepted. It took so much hard work and we had to demonstrate how much we do to promote science, maths, engineering and technology.

“But one thing I am particularly proud of is that a former pupil of Royal Masonic School, Susan Buckle, was on the same training course as Major Peake and she is now involved in the educational programme and all of this. It is just phenomenal.”

Susan Buckle, who went to the school between 1995 and 2003, said she first met Peake when they were training in Cologne.

Now working for the UK Space Agency, Ms Buckle is in charge of the educational programme about his time on the ISS and will be at each of the schools who link to the ISS.

She said: “One of my first projects at the UK Space Agency was the ARISS project. When I looked down the list of the schools that had been chosen, I could not tell you how excited I was.

“I think it is incredibly important that things like this happen. Students need to be inspired.

“They might not necessarily want to go into space. But it encourages them to do something special.

“They need a role model like Tim. He is a really down to earth guy.”

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