NASA Astronaut’s ISS Field Day Operation Puts Smiles on Several Faces
Some lucky — and happy — ARRL Field Day participants managed to snag a contact with NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman, KF5LKT, operating from NA1SS on board the International Space Station. Wiseman, who just came aboard the space station this spring, seemed to have fun working the pileup.
“Enjoyed ARRL FD 14,” Wiseman said on Twitter. “I operated from the ESA Columbus module. So many calls!” Wiseman used NA1SS on the standard VHF frequencies of 144.49 MHz up and 145.80 MHz down. It’s not yet known how many stations he was able to contact.
Bob McCown, N3IYI, reported the Goddard Amateur Radio Club’s WA3NAN Field Day station in Greenbelt, Maryland, was among those that succeeded in contacting NA1SS during Field Day on Saturday afternoon. “The pass was almost over way to the east over the Atlantic, so things were no doubt quieting down up there,” McCown told ARISS International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, and others in a post-Field Day e-mail. “When I mentioned Goddard, he came back with ‘Goddard! That’s just down the road from where I grew up! Good to hear from you.’”
Patrick Stoddard, WD9EWK/VA7EWK, in Arizona reported working Wiseman as the ISS passed over the Western US. “I worked NA1SS as it passed over the western USA at 1818 UTC this morning for my first ARRL (and AMSAT) Field Day QSO,” he said in an ISS Fan Club forum post. “First time working NA1SS during Field Day!”
“Me too!!” posted Umesh Ghodke, K6VUG, who operated Field Day from the South Bay Amateur Radio Association (SBARA) KU6S site, He reported that NA1SS was full quieting in Fremont, California on the space station’s first Field Day pass over the Pacific and the Midwest Saturday morning.
“It was such an out-of-the-world experience having a voice contact with Wiseman, surrounded by many club members,” Ghodke posted. “Due to the uncertainty of his possible on-the-air operation, we were set up for both voice as well as the usual packet. And we were scanning both frequencies every few seconds. When we started ‘hearing voices,’ we were so excited that it never occurred us to make a voice recording. This is a once in a lifetime contact.”
Stoddard said Wiseman was having occasional difficulty copying call signs. “With so many stations calling, and being on FM, that is understandable,” he said. “I could hear times during the two North American passes where he was picking up a different call each time he was transmitting. He was going very quickly, knowing the limited time he had over the continent on each pass.” Stoddard said he heard nothing on the 70 centimeter frequency, 437.55 MHz.
In Elko, Nevada, Shane Wiggins, NV7SW, was operating as W7V for Elko Amateur Radio Club’s 2014 Field Day operation. He managed to work NA1SS on one of the less-than-ideal passes. Late into that pass I heard Reid come back to my call,” Wiggins told ARRL. “There were many people huddled around my satellite station listening, and we all went crazy when we heard him come back to me. In particular, there was a young father and son visiting our Field Day location, [and] the little boy was jumping around.” Wiggins said his only regret was that he had worked NA1SS with the Field Day station’s W7V call sign and not his own. Wiggins said he’d dreamed of working NA1SS ever since he was able to see the ISS passing overhead one evening in 2009.
Another Field Day group that was fortunate enough to connect with the ISS were the Boy Scouts of Raymore, Missouri, Troop 32. “I bet the boys could be heard up in orbit even without a radio when Reid answered our call!” Scout Leader Jim Reicher, W0HV, said afterward.The Maui Amateur Radio Club’s KH6RS on the north shore of Maui said the contact between the group’s Amanda Schaefer, WH6DUB, and NA1SS was among the weekend’s highlights.
In a Field Day “Soapbox” post, Stoddard said he was unable to get away for Field Day, so he set up in his backyard. He worked NA1SS with his “normal FM satellite station” running 5 W and started calling NA1SS as the time for the pass arrived and had NA1SS in the log within 5 minutes. Stoddard has uploaded “a couple of slideshow videos” (1) (2) with Field Day audio from NA1SS to YouTube.
“Thanks to Reid Wiseman, NASA, and ARISS for encouraging him to try the ham station in the ISS Columbus module during Field Day!” Stoddard added.