SpaceX Crew-6 Commander, Stephen Bowen, KI5BKB, Makes ARISS Radio Contact with Ham-Savvy Kids

At 12:34 a.m. on March 2, the sky at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida was fully ablaze (see blastoff here) as the Falcon 9 rocket with attached Dragon Endeavor spacecraft launched into its 24.5-hour journey to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission. Once aboard the ISS, NASA astronaut and Commander Stephen Bowen, KI5BKB, got down to business making it a priority to reach out to a group of exceptionally lucky students at the Valle de Camargo High School in Revilla de Camargo, Spain using Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS).

However, these high school-aged hams-in-training are no strangers to amateur radio. The school has partnered with the Santander Amateur Radio Association for the past five years as part of Valle de Camargo High School’s annual cultural week event. Students observed licensed ham-run demonstrations and heard discussions that focused on shortwave radio operation while getting a firsthand glance at what it takes to become an amateur radio operator.

Plus, to prep for this singular experience with the anti-gravity commander, students were additionally taking on special coursework that covered electronic communication, the solar system, and, of course, all things amateur radio. Educators hope the on-air visit will get the more than 1,000 students on campus, who range from ages 12 to 18, excited about coursework already offered by the institution in math, physics, technology, and the sciences.

The event, which took place on March 27 at 15.09UTC at an amateur radio ground station in Revilla de Camargo, Spain, used the downlink frequency 145.800 MHZ. Operators used call sign EG1RVC to establish and maintain the ISS connection. The event was just one of more than 60 to 80 similar contacts that take place annually between students on a global level and licensed hams onboard the ISS as part of the ARISS student outreach program.

Listen to the event here. Or take a peek at the student-inspired questions regarding what Bowen and fellow crew members—including NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg, KB3HTZ; United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, KI5VTV; and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev—experience while in orbit. Questions you may never have thought to ask an astronaut like “Is it possible to dance in space?” made the short list.

1. Did you want to be an astronaut when you were a child?
2. Did you have to perform very demanding physical tests to be an astronaut?
3. What studies have you done to become an astronaut?
4. Can you communicate with your family frequently?
5. How long do you usually stay on the ISS?
6. Is it possible to dance in space?
7. How do you spend your free time on the ISS?
8. What are the effects on health of living in space?
9. What are the best aspects of cooperating among so many nations?
10. How often do you receive supplies from Earth?
11. What are your greatest fears living on the ISS?
12. Is it easy to lose track of time living through continuous sunrises and sunsets?
13. What do you do if a crew member becomes ill?
14. What are the main problems of living together on the ISS?
15. What is the most interesting experiment you are working on?
16. What is the most impressive atmospheric phenomenon you have seen?
17. How do you feel when you remember that there is nothing around the ISS?
18. Do you frequently do spacewalks outside the ISS? What does it feel like?
19. Would it be possible for a disabled person to travel to space?
20. Could you explain the feeling of living without gravity?

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