Wairarapa Home Schoolers Talk to International Space Station
Amateur Radio on the International Space
Wednesday 26th November 2008
This Wednesday, 11 school children from the Wairarapa Home Schooling Association will ask questions of an astronaut on the International Space Station via Amateur Radio, in what will be New Zealand’s second organised contact, though it is number 387 for the ISS. It also appears to be the 1st time a group of home-schoolers have contacted the ISS. Typically, the time allowed for questions is about 10 minutes, and in this time, up to 15 questions can be asked and replies given.
The questions are of general interest.
The astronaut the children will be speaking to is American Radio Amateur Mike Fincke (KE5AET), this is Mike’s 2nd expedition on the ISS. Mike is a very keen amateur radio operator and has operated from space before. He is one of 9 astronauts on the space station at present. The International Space station orbits the earth every 90 minutes at an altitude of 370 km at a speed of 27,000 km/hour. The Space Shuttle Endeavour docked with the ISS on Monday 17th November, and is scheduled to stay docked to the ISS for 14 days before returning to earth.
Many volunteer Radio Amateurs around the world have worked for over 12 months to make this Radio contact a success, including those in America who have the responsibility for the scheduling and timing. Other countries involved are Australia and Japan. We must recognise that Amateur Radio on the ISS is secondary to everything else, and there may be something outside of our control that may prevent this contact from taking place; it would be unusual at this late stage, but it could happen.
ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) is a purely volunteer organisation involving people in many countries around the world. It is supported by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL), and many other national Amateur Radio organisations, including the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (NZART).
ARISS is to inspire, at least in some small way, the study of space to school children from all over the world, to speak to an astronaut who is a Radio Amateur and is on the International Space Station.
The Radio Amateurs in New Zealand who are in charge of this contact belong to the South Wairarapa Amateur Radio Club based in Featherston; Peter Norden (ZL2SJ) the New Zealand Coordinator for the ARISS program in New Zealand, and Ian Miles (ZL2TZW), assisted by Graeme Nelson (ZL2GDN) of Masterton.
The Wairarapa Home School Association (WHSA) is a support group for many of the home schoolers in the Wairarapa province. WHSA provides a point of communication for events and resources that are in the Wairarapa (and surrounding areas), and for parents to plan events that will provide for educational and social activities for their families. Some families live in remote areas in the farming community and others live in the country towns; Masterton is the main town in the province. The children who will be asking the questions are schooled by their parents, and the ages of the children involved range from 5 to 14 years.
The Wairarapa province which is located about 90 km north east from the capital city, Wellington, and is a rural community consisting of dairying, cattle, sheep, timber, cropping and some fruit growing industries. Wairarapa is a Maori word meaning “sea of sparkling waters”, from Lake Wairarapa, a fresh water lake in the province.
The contact should be available live on the internet via http://www.discoveryreflector.ca/events.htm,
and on radio via various Amateur Radio frequencies around the country.