Astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) were busy the last week of January using amateur radio to make contact with two schools.
The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program arranged contacts with Brentwood Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Norwich Free Academy (NFA) located in Norwich, Connecticut.
On January 26, 2023, nearly 400 students at Brentwood Magnet Elementary School filled the gymnasium to listen to astronaut Koichi Wakata answer questions about his experience on the ISS. Wakata told students he loves being in space but is looking forward to taking a shower when he returns in March.
He also told the students that it's not scary in space and encouraged them to pursue careers in science and engineering.
Then on January 30, 2023, astronaut Dr. Josh Cassada contacted students at NFA. During his 10-minute contact, Cassada shared with students how his career as a Navy Test Pilot helped him become an astronaut. "Do the things you love," Cassada told the students.During the remainder of the contact, Cassada talked about cargo vehicles making frequent trips to resupply the ISS and how his routine is different each day, including working weekends.
The NFA Amateur Radio and Engineering Club, W1HLO, members and advisors installed an amateur radio satellite ground station on the NFA campus in 2023, thanks to an Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) grant, which helped make the contact with the ISS possible.
ARISS is a unique STEM educational program which inspires young people to develop knowledge and skills through their participation in space science and amateur radio. ARISS conducts 60 - 80 of these special amateur radio contacts each year between students around the globe and crew members with ham radio licenses aboard the ISS.
ARISS is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the ISS. In the US, participating organizations include from NASA's Space Communications and Navigation program (SCaN), the ISS National Lab - Space Station Explorers, ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio¨, and AMSAT.
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