On Monday November 6th 2017, Ryan Krenzischek W4NTR and Steve Taylor W1HQL assisted the West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Club with a successful contact between students and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (WS4FSC).
First contact occurred at 11:16 am. The lead amateur radio operator and coordinator Jim Nagel KF4OD began calling the station about 30 seconds prior to the predictied AOS (Acqusition of Signal). After 2 attempts astronaut Paolo Nespoli (IZ0JPA) responded.
When the second question by one of the students was transmitted there was a brief loss of our uplink signal on the primary radio system. We could hear the astronaut telling us that he was unable to receive our signal and was prepared to switch to a back up frequency. As planned and with assistance from Ryan W4NTR they immediately switched to the back up radio that was supplied by the Everglades Amateur Radio Club. There was an issue with the ability to program their ICOM 9100 back up radio with the special/modified offsets required to communicate with the ISS. So the EARC club radio (pre-programmed and tested) was brought into action! Contact was regained while the team worked on resolving the primary transmitter issues.
Within moments they had the primary radio running as it should and tracking with a great signal from the ISS and resumed normal operations. We believe it may have been the antenna array trying to catch up to the ISS, but once it locked on the issue was resolved.
12 Students were able to ask and receive the responses from Paolo. The contact lasted 8 minutes since the pass elevation was a low 36 degree pass. The event was well covered by multiple media sources in the Palm Beach area.
You can be proud that amateur radio was well represented.
Check out the Links below for coverage of the event
region-c-palm-beach-county/ west-palm-beach/pbc-students- speak-live-with-astronaut- aboard-the-iss
news/local/new-calling-outer- space-county-students-speak- astronaut-orbit/ dKfIMUHbd7BGn97760Tn0K/