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North Carolina School Contacts the International Space Station


On August 28, 2023, students at Bowman Middle School in Bakersville, North Carolina, talked to NASA Astronaut Stephen Bowen, KI5BKB, who as on board the International Space Station (ISS).

For months, 22 students had been preparing for a 10-minute window to ask Bowen about his time and experiences on the ISS. They were able to ask 13 questions, like, "What is it like to be in space?" and, "Is the crew doing any research on diseases that affect humans?"

Section Manager of the ARRL North Carolina Section Marv Hoffman, WA4NC, presented the Supporting, Upgrading, Growing Amateur Radio (SUGAR) Award to the school and its science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teacher, Dan Hopson, for arranging the ISS contact.

Hopson said, "The waiting and static, are suspenseful but when you hear the man's voice or that person's voice come over the air, the kids know this is really happening."

Bowen, returned to Earth with SpaceX Crew-6 on September 5.

US Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05) also attended the event. She called the experience "a stellar opportunity." In a recent letter to her constituents in North Carolina, Foxx wrote, "On Monday, I traveled to Bakersville in Mitchell County to meet with students, staff, and administrators of Bowman Middle School - as well as to view the school's International Space Station (ISS) contact project. As part of the project, students were able to ask questions in real time via ham radio to Steve Bowen, a NASA Astronaut who successfully traveled to the ISS on March 3 of this year. This impressive event was one that these students will surely remember as they continue their educational journeys. Congratulations to all who made this event, and learning opportunity, such a success."

ARISS is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the ISS. In the US, participating organizations include NASA's Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program, the ISS National Laboratory -- Space Station Explorers, ARRL, and AMSAT.



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