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ISS Astronaut Activates ARISS During ARRL National Centennial Convention


Satellite enthusiast Patrick Stoddard, WD9EWK, and a crowd of onlookers got an unexpected treat July 19 at the ARRL National Centennial Convention in Hartford, Connecticut. Stoddard was outside the Connecticut Convention Center, hoping to perhaps demonstrate the digipeater aboard the International Space Station (ISS) during some favorable passes and, if he really got lucky, to actually speak to an ISS crew member.


On the first pass, just before the convention opened for its final day, Stoddard was able to “bounce a few packets” through the ISS digipeater, using his Kenwood TH-D72A and Elk dualband log periodic antenna — both hand-held devices. On the next pass — the most favorable one of the morning — Stoddard was listening to both 145.800, the FM voice frequency, and to 145.825 MHz, the digipeater frequency. While he didn’t hear anything from the digipeater, he thought he heard “something” on 145.800. He called NA1SS — the US Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) call sign — and NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman, KF5LKT, came back to him.

“My audience went crazy, and I was happy to make contact and have a nice 3 to 4 minute chat,” Stoddard told AMSAT News Service. “I asked Reid if he might be on the microphone for the next pass over the eastern USA around 1200 local/1600 UTC. He said he would try, and we were outside for that as well.” Wiseman had thrilled numerous ARRL Field Day participants in June by getting on the air from NA1SS for the event.

Word of his successful contact spread, and Stoddard had an even larger crowd looking on for the third pass, which he described as “shallow,” given its maximum 6° elevation. Stoddard made several attempts to make lightning strike twice in the same place, but he never heard anything on 145.800. Nonetheless, the crowd gave him a round of applause, and Stoddard was able to answer several questions about working Amateur Radio satellites with a relatively simple setup.

Stoddard has posted a presentation on YouTube from his successfull contact. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service, and Patrick Stoddard, WD9EWK




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