Student Radio Contact with the International Space Station Inspires Hurricane-hit Community
From ARRL de WD1CKS@VERT/WLARB to QST on Fri Oct 28 18:11:32 2022
Students from Canterbury School in Fort Myers, Florida, were able to spend a few minutes on Monday, October 24, 2022, talking with Astronaut Josh Cassada, KI5CRH, onboard the International Space Station (ISS) using ham radio.
The radio contact, arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, provided hope for a community devastated by Hurricane Ian. School officials estimated that 30% of the school's faculty, staff, and families were left homeless after the hurricane passed through their area.
The contact was made just after 1:30 PM EDT, and students were able ask Astronaut Cassada questions ranging from, "Is the sun brighter in outer space?" to "What's your favorite meal?" The contact lasted just over 10 minutes, when the ISS was over the Caribbean Sea.
Members of the Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club, an ARRL Special Service Club, supported the school by providing students with technical instruction and radio equipment. The club's call sign, W4LX, was used to operate the ground station that established and maintained the contact with the ISS. The school used a Kenwood TS-2000 transceiver for the event. Several students built a satellite tracking antenna system capable of locking onto and tracking a satellite while in range to receive the ISS signal.
An ARISS news release described that as the students were preparing for the big day, "they saw the first pictures of Hurricane Ian, as seen from the ISS, bearing down on the coast of Florida. Evacuations were ordered in advance of the catastrophic winds and storm surges, which eventually affected many of the homes of students, faculty, and staff. In the wake of this destruction, it was uncertain whether the ARISS contact could occur. However, if only for a moment of reprieve from their loss and destruction, the entire Canterbury school community, including the school's staff/faculty, amateur radio operators, students and students' families, decided to pull together to support the ARISS contact and thereby renew their sense of hope and inspiration in human space exploration."
The Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club website has a link to a video of their entire contact with the ISS.
ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio¨ is an ARISS sponsor.