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2010 News Releases




International Space Station Contact with South Hobart Primary School

Date : 07 / 09 / 2010
Author : Justin Giles-Clark - VK7TW

On Friday 27th August at 16:46, students from the South Hobart Primary School got the opportunity to ask questions of US Astronaut Colonel Doug Wheelock as he flew over the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland USA. The contact was made via the telebridge network to the ISS (NA1SS) under the guidance of Coordinator Tony Hutchison VK5ZAI (Australian ARISS Coordinator) in Kingston SE South Australia. The amateur radio ground station was K6DUE at Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland USA run by Dave Taylor, W8AAS with assistance from Mark Steiner K3MS and Burnie Hahn N6ZOA. Echolink streaming was handled by Graham Lawton G7EVY in Lancashire UK. Locally at the school the amateur radio operator was Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW.

The satellite tracking application SatScape was used to display on the classroom's smart board to show where the ISS was in the world and when it came into range of Maryland USA. Another screen was also playing a DVD presentation of Astronaut Mike Finke's tour through the ISS to show people what it looks like inside the ISS as astronaut Doug Wheelock was answering each of the student's questions. There were approximately 40-50 people present in the classroom which included the 10 students, parent, friends, teachers, media and helpers who all witnessed the contact.

The students were aged between 8 and 12 years old and they asked the following question of Astronaut Doug Wheelock:

1. How long and wide is the space station?
2. What are the types of emergencies that can happen in the ISS and can fire ignite in zero gravity?
3. What are some of the experiments that you've done and what's one of your favourites?
4. How does it feel to do a space walk, is it scary and how many have you done?
5. How many countries are involved in the ISS and what countries do the astronauts actually come from?
6. How many people can live on the space station at any one time?
7. Is the issue of space junk a concern and how does the ISS steer to avoid it?
8. How long does it take the mind to get used to zero gravity and when you return to Earth does it take the same amount of time to get used to normal gravity?
9. What happens to all the waste: human waste and food scraps that are created while you are on the space station?
10. What level of connection do you have with Earth in regard to receiving current affairs/news and communications with your family?

Great media coverage of the contact was received following the distribution of a joint media release between the school and local Radio club Radio and Electronics Association of Southern Tasmania Inc and this release can be found by clicking in the related files section below. This media release was distributed to local media outlets by the Tasmanian Education Department Media and Communications Unit. The Principal Greg Turner was interviewed on air by a local commercial radio station (Southern Cross Media) a couple of days prior to the contact to raise awareness and demonstrate support from the school.

The local newspaper in Hobart is the Hobart Mercury and a report and cameraman covered the event and this resulted in a great article about the contact appearing on the following day, view the story in the related files section below Many comments were received from teachers and parents about this article along with the Principal receiving a letter from the Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Education praising the positive media coverage. A few days after the event, Justin VK7TW was interviewed on local ABC radio for 7minutes on the Michael Veitch breakfast program and a recording of this can be found in the related files section below.

Thanks to Tony VK5ZAI for the mentoring, coordination, phone patch equipment used for the contact and who recorded the contact you can listen the the audio recording below.

Thanks to Dave Taylor (W8AAS), Mark Steiner (K3MS) and Burnie Hahn (N6ZOA) at the Goddard Space Flight Centre who operated the amateur radio ground station (K6DUE). Thanks you to Graham Lawton G7EVY for the Echolink streaming during the contact. Thanks to NASA and especially Colonel Doug Wheelock for answering the Student's questions. Thanks to the ARISS team volunteers who made this all possible. Thanks to the Principal Greg Turner, Coordinating Teacher Dallas Honnery and the Students and Parents for enthusiastically participating in the contact. Finally, thanks to Steve Leeper VK7OO, Warren Nicholas VK7FEET and Thomas Karpiniec VK7NML for helping during the contact.

Video was taken of the event and a 30 minute DVD presentation along with a 15minute YouTube summary video was created and this is soon to be uploaded to the VK7TW channel simply click the following Link

Related Files

ISS SHPS Contact Media Release
ISS -SHPS-Contact-Media-Release_(Final).pdf

Hobart Mercury SHPS ISS Contact Article

VK7TW Michael Veitch Interview ISS SHPS

Audio Recording Of The ISS Contact

ISS SHPS Contact Full Report


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