The International Space Station has been in direct communication with pupils from St Peter-in-Thanet Junior School, Kent, UK, facilitated by the usage of amateur radio.
Under the guidance of The Radio Society of Great Britain’s volunteers and staff, including Board Chair Stewart Bryant, G3YSX, students engaged in a Q&A session with astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, using the amateur radio call sign KI5WSL.
St Peter’s Junior School student Audrey, a member of the Hilderstone Radio’s STEAMettes club, was among the students who participated, posing one of the 21 questions to astronaut Moghbeli.
“When (the) day came, I was very excited — there was a really big antenna at the school! I had practiced my question and also knew that I had to say ‘over’ at the end.” said Audrey.
The event attracted pupils from other schools and was live-streamed to classrooms, with everyone gathering in the school hall for the occasion. Headteacher Mr. Whitehouse welcomed the attendees, which included children, parents, and teachers.
Representatives from the RSGB were in attendance, including Marketing Manager Anna Clarke M7EPA and Director Stewart Bryant G3YSX. The day’s activities and preparations were showcased in a slideshow, and Meganne Christian, a trainee astronaut and ESA astronaut reserve selected from 22,000 applicants, shared insights about her career and experiences in Antarctica and on NASA’s zero gravity flights.
“At the heart of this achievement lies the significance of amateur radio. Amateur radio represents the very essence of human ingenuity and the unyielding desire to connect, explore, and communicate,” said Nathan Williams, the school’s science coordinator.
“It has been the bridge that has connected our school to the cosmos, enabling our students to engage in conversations that transcend the boundaries of our planet. Through amateur radio, our students have delved into the intricate world of frequencies and signals, learning not only about the wonders of space but also the importance of effective communication.”
Ciaran Morgan M0XTD, ARISS International’s RSGB representative and the UK ARISS team lead, provided a live demonstration of the radio signal’s white noise before astronaut Jasmin’s voice came through. He also facilitated a practice cheer with the children and parents in attendance.
Isabella Payne, a Hilderstone Radio Society member and student, made the successful call to the ISS, marking her second successful contact with an astronaut in space. The children eagerly posed their questions, covering topics from life on the ISS to extraterrestrial existence.
The Hilderstone Radio Society, instrumental in facilitating a previous space contact for Wellesley House school with astronaut Tim Peake in 2017, played a key role in organizing this event at St Peter’s School.
The successful contact with astronaut Kjell Lindgren in August 2022 by 9-year-old Isabella made international news and was a decisive factor in selecting her school for this recent communication event.
Coinciding with British Science Week’s “Connections” theme in March 2023, the Hilderstone Radio Society organized a series of radio communication activities for different year groups. These ranged from Morse code exchanges and satellite messages to coding tasks on the Raspberry Pi Sense Hat for ISS astronauts.
Additionally, the Ramsgate Stargazers facilitated space-related activities during Space Week, offering insights into lunar craters, solar astronomy, and the creation of pocket-sized solar systems.
SOURCE: ‘ARISS School Contact between St Peter-In-Thanet Broadstairs and Jasmin Moghbeli NA1SS.’ Credit: ARISS Operations UK Team
Featured image: St Peter-in-Thanet Junior School. Credit: ARISS Operations UK Team