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Deaf Pupils Set to Speak with ISS Crew Member in a World-First Event


Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) will offer a group of pupils at the Mary Hare School for deaf children in England an opportunity to speak with an astronaut via amateur radio. The contact is expected to take place sometime during October 10 – 17. Mary Hare School, with Pippa Middleton as its ambassador, is the largest non-maintained school for deaf children in the UK. The event will mark the first time an ARISS contact has been arranged with a school for deaf youth.

“It is a very exciting event — a world first for deaf pupils,” said Alex Ayling, a science teacher at the school. “I think it is very important to our deaf pupils, as it shows whatever your challenges with communication there is no limit to what you can achieve. The sky is not the limit.”

Ciaran Morgan, M0XTD, ARISS operations lead for the UK, said that technical aspects of the radio contact are being handled by the ARISS-UK team. The Newbury and District Amateur Radio Society (NADARS) will provide “the amateur radio experience” for the students, through ham radio events and activities at the school. Lessons related to ARISS include a crystal radio, electricity and circuits, forces, energy, sound, electromagnetism, space and space exploration, the ISS, and rocketry.

During September the school has been conducting a competition, inviting students to enter questions from one of five categories — science in space, space technology, living in space, space communication, and Earth from space. The school staff will pick the 10 best questions, and those students will be invited to ask their questions. The astronaut’s response will then be rendered as text for the students.

At the school, an expected audience of 250 spaced-apart spectators will be able to see the radio contact firsthand. The remaining students and audience members will be linked in via a web feed, so that they do not miss out.

Amateur radio equipment has been on board the ISS for more than 20 years, and most astronauts hold ham radio licenses. A live web feed will be available.

Mary Hare School educates some 240 profoundly and severely deaf children, aged 5 – 19, each year. — Thanks to UK News 



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