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2017 News Releases




Queensland students talk with an astronaut

Date : 27 / 10 / 2017
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) linked up the Beaconsfield State School in McKay with Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA via a telebridge last Thursday. About 300 students, parents, dignitaries and teachers gathered at the school with one visitor travelling 390Km from Townsville just to attend the event. Also watching proceedings were a newspaper reporter and a local radio announcer.

Leading up to the ARISS event the school set up several space theme displays, with some students dressing up as astronauts – the costumes were great – and a display of several photos of Paolo Nespoli were posted around the building. In addition, several video screens were in the school hall with ISS tracking displays, BATC streaming display (Tony VK5ZAI streamed to BATC) as well as a portable satellite ground station. This emulated what was occurring at Claudio’s ground station – the portable ground station was complete with tracking antennas and Doppler correction, resulting in many questions being asked.

Then came the telebridge link-up with Claudio IK1SLD in Italy and Tony VK5ZAI in South Australia. The WIA ARISS Coordinator Shane VK4KHZ was at the school to moderate the link-up. When Paolo began his pass he was amazing with the students and many parents commenting after the contact on how well he interacted with the young students.

During the contact students were able to ask all 13 questions and received answers. Science Teacher Anna Berrigan thanked Paolo and the audience had loud applause. Immediately after the event the Mackay Tropical Stargazer Group invited everyone to the school grounds where they had set up large telescopes for planet viewing.

One of the highlights was to see the ISS pass over Queensland about 40 minutes after our ARISS contact, giving most their first look at the International Space Station. The evening was highly successful and an enjoyable event, with a few of the primary school students now thinking of being involved in the space industry.


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