Space and satellite operation is one area of ham radio I’ve yet to spend much time on.  I think it’s neat but I spend so much more time tinkering with projects and operating HF that there’s little time left for other pursuits.

I have previously copied signals from ARISSat-1 before its orbit degraded and it self destructed on re-entry.  That was pretty cool but it was just pre-recorded messages and some telemetry.  I was never able to copy the SSTV pictures.  I did learn that the low earth orbiting satellites can be worked with pretty modest antennas and radios.

Thanks to my friend Ed, NN9D for alerting me to a neat space opportunity.  Cumberland Elementary  School in West Lafayette, IN had arranged a contact to the ISS through the ARISS progam.  I had just enough time to go out and listen to the 145.800 MHz downlink in my car.  The pass was supposed to be a little over nine minutes and I think I was able to copy a solid seven to eight minutes.  Not bad considering I was listening on a third-hand Yaesu 1500M and a 5/8 wave vertical on the trunk mount.  It was really neat to hear an astronaut talking to the kids from 260 miles up in space, in real  time!  I couldn’t hear the uplink but could get a pretty good idea of the questions from hearing the answers.

The next day at work I saw that it made the front page of the Lafayette Journal and Courier newspaper. It was a nice article and gave some of the background info and details about the people involved.  The astronaut, Kevin Ford, is an Indiana native.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I can only imagine the students were impressed.  Job well done to all the students, teachers, ham volunteers…and the host, live from ISS, 260 miles in space!

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