Contact was made with the International Space Station. More details soon!
… And what a contact it was! Initial impressions from KS1G:
Everyone did a fabulous job delivering a quality radio and audio and visual experience and dealing with the last-minute (and TOO last minute!) crisis, including having to reboot the entire video streaming system just before contact, and my own fighting SatPC32 for the longest 2 minutes 54 seconds of my life to get the antennas pointing correctly. (I know what happened, why, and how to NOT LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN (he hopes)).
Once underway, the contact went quite smoothly. The school (thank you Sandy and Amy) did a great job shepherding the students to the microphone and cuing them to ask their questions. And there were some EXCELLENT questions. WE received great feedback from the school about the audio and video quality, particularly how clearly everyone could hear Astronaut Dr. Drew Morgan. Thirteen students were able to ask and get their questions answered; unfortunately we could not make up for the lost time upfront (ISS doesn’t have “park” on the gearshift) so we lost contact around the end of that answer. The students and staff (and all of us) gave out a loud cheer and congratulations all around. We followed the contact with a short Q&A by myself and John, N0JSD before the assembly concluded.
Afterwards, there were interviews by media; I know Loudoun Now, LCPS Public Affairs, and NBC4-TV were present. Brice Hilliard (who deservers huge credit for instigating this idea in the 1st place) and N0JSD were interviewed by NBC4, and LCPS PA chatted with me as well. After a quick pizza lunch in the library, it was time to pack up and depart. Loudoun Ashburn Fire Station arrived again with the tower truck and made quick work of getting our larger items off the roof. N0JSD got an added bonus – a ride in the tower to it’s maximum height! (that’s TWO “bucket list” items in ONE DAY, maybe 3 if NBC4 airs the video).
Social media was ablaze, I know there were several posts on Twitter from the school and the associated elementary schools. And a great behind the scenes shot (WA4TXE did a masterful job of directing the cats and managing backstage so everything went sufficiently smooth out front!)
I’d like to personally thank everyone for the help today. This was a team effort and it took a lot of people over many days to make it a success, including making a clean and safe departure this afternoon. So besides Jeff K0ZR, Paulson KG4TIH, Dave WA4TXE, John N0JSD, and me KS1G, our helpers for contact day included:
Kevin AK2M, Denny KF4TJI, Paul N4PD, John W0MPM, Kurt KI4FWB, Paulson’s colleagues Gary Walker, Dave Denison, Michael Parker, Cory McHale, Martin NV3H, Bruce KN4TS, and WA4TXE YL Cheri.
(Again, if I left anyone off or messed up a name or callsign, please tell me or Paulson and we’ll make the corrections)
So after all that, who wants to help another school talk to an astronaut on the ISS? I DO! (ARISS is taking applications for the 2nd half of 2020 through November, the window for 1st half 2021 is in May….)
Paulson is working on final edits of the contact and full program videos and photos, and we plan to have another post and a full report for the November LARG meeting. We will also get video from the school. If you have photos, please provide to Paulson (an upload folder link was emailed to the ariss list earlier this evening)
73s de KS1G