Canberran students enjoy ARISS contact
Ten students from the Trinity Christian School at Wanniassa in the Australian Capital Territory made history at the weekend with the first Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program contact to be held in Canberra. The event was part of the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) centenary dinner attended by 200 people including international guests, Australian Communications and Media Authority Chairman Chris Chapman, and WIA Centenary Patron Dick Smith VK2DIK.
Jim Linton VK3PC
A telebridge ON4ISS in Belgium (operator Philippe Van houte, ON5PV) made the contact with ARISS Asia-Pacific Coordinator, Tony Hutchison VK5ZAI at the controls in Canberra for the contact on Saturday, 29 May. The audience remain quiet and listened intently as the Year 12 students asked Astronaut and Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson KF5DBF, on her assignment on the space station, a series of questions.
The session began with a brief speech by Tracy who congratulated the WIA on its centenary and commented briefly on amateur radio’s history and amateur satellites. Student William Shaw, asked: When you are in space, are you "above" the law? If there was a legal issue that arose on the space station which nation's law would apply? Tracy replied that she did not foresee that there would be a legal problem on the space station and added that there were controls on what could occur in space.
Another student, Elizabeth Shen, asked about living is space with zero gravity, its effects on the body and whether there were changes to the normal blood pressure and pulse rate. It was learnt in Tracy’s response that the crew are constantly monitored, there are effects and rehabilitation on return to earth can take up to three months. In other questions the topics of sleeping in an environment with 16 sunrises and sunsets a day, space walking – Tracy is to have that experience soon – and the potential for collision with solid matter in space.
After the ARISS contact Elizabeth Shen and William Shaw said they were both extremely impressed by the efforts made by astronauts to qualify and fly in space, giving them encouragement to strive in their chosen careers. Elizabeth, aged 17 added: 'The opportunity to speak to someone above the space station was one of the best experiences in her life.' While William, aged 18, said 'It was really cool to be able to talk to someone who is in a completely different situation – with the zero gravity and what not.'
Trinity Christian School Principal, Carl Palmer VK2TP/VK1TP was justifiable very proud of his students. WIA President Michael Owen VK3KI presented each with a participation certificate. WIA Centenary Patron Dick Smith VK2DIK - aviator, adventurer and entrepreneur - shook their hands, spoke to them about their experience and had is photograph taken with them.
News of the ARISS contact made the news bulletins on three Canberra radio stations and a detailed story with photograph has appeared in the Sunday Canberra Times newspaper.
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