Successful ARISS contact at ZESPOL SZKOL in Stobierna, Poland

Wednesday November 27th, 2013 at 09:22 UTC, which is 10:22 CEWT, students from Junior High Schools Complex in Stobierna, Poland established an ARISS contact with JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, aboard the International Space Station. The astronaut operated with the ISS call sign NA1SS. This was a telebridge contact operated by Tony Hutchison, amateur radio station VK5ZAI located in Kingston, South Australia.

The Stobierna School Complex started preparations for this event in 2011. They wanted to prepare a contact for two schools. However, their Space Station Center in Globikowa is located in the mountains where, at this period of the year, conditions for setting up antenna systems are unfavourable. For this reason they opted for a telebridge contact.

For a period of two years, pupils attended scientific meetings and some of them prepared their own presentations. They built models of PW-SAT, the first Polish satellite (cube-sat), which was launched about one year ago. They organized competitions on astronomy and space flights at their own school and with other schools. Young first class pupils attended an art competition about astronautics. They collaborated for these activities with the school in Brzeznica, which was going to perform a telebridge ARISS contact the following week.

During these two years, the children learned how to use a HAM radio. In 2012, the school organized the Second Polish-wide ARISS Conference in Pustkow-Osiedle. It took place in the Debica Region Library and Culture Centre. There was an exhibition for participants and invited guests, with very old crystal radios as well as modern HAM transceivers. HAM diplomas and QSL cards were also presented.

At 08:00 UTC November 27th, 2013, in the school’s gym hall in Stobierna, there was a presentation on the beginning of astronautics, the International Space Station and HAM radio and also about the upcoming telebridge ARISS event.

At 08:40 UTC, the telebridge phone connection was established between the school in Stobierna and the HAM radio station VK5ZAI, operated by Tony Hutchison in southern Australia. Shane Lynd VK4KHZ from Queensland moderated the event. At 09:22 UTC, Tony VK5ZAI made radio contact with JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, who was aboard the International Space Station (NA1SS).

The radio contact with the astronaut lasted 9 minutes. At the end of the contact the audience sent a big applause to the astronaut. Both colleagues from Australia were congratulated for the successful contact.

The audio of the contact was transmitted over the local HAM repeater. There was happiness, smiles, photos and interviews by mass media. 16 questions were prepared, all of them were asked and the astronaut answered all of them. The contact was conducted in English.

During the second answer, the radio contact was lost. When the radio connection was restored, the astronaut repeated his answer to the second question. The audio was loud and clear. About 250 persons, mainly pupils from the School Complex, attended the event.

Two TV stations, three public local radio stations and several journalists from 4 publishers covered the event.

The audio file is available for download:

http://www.instalacje24.org/ariss/stobierna.mp3

http://ariss.pzk.org.pl/SP/contact/014/audio/brzeznica.mp3

Photo album: http://ariss.pzk.org.pl/SP/contact/013/photos/

This Bulletin is based on information provided by Hubert SQ9AOL and Jacek SQ8AQO. Thanks to all volunteers involved in this unique possibility to talk with an astronaut in space over HAM radio. Congratulations to the HAM operators from the amateur radio clubs which offered technical support : SP8KKM, SP8YAY and SP8PVV.

Report prepared by Armand Budzianowski, SP3QFE and Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ, ARISS mentors