November 6, 2002


The amateur radio club of the Royal Technical School for petty officers of the Belgian army, located in Sint Truiden, Frank De Winne's hometown, had done a fine job installing a satellite station for the scheduled contact with Frank De Winne, ESA astronaut for the "BTF-Odissea" mission and flight colonel of the Belgian Air Force.

Sunday morning 3 November 2002, twenty selected students lined up in the radio room when the contact with NA1SS was initiated. Valery Korzun, RZ3FK first answered the call and gave the mike to Frank, ON1DWN. For 10 minutes of an excellent contact, Frank answered 17 questions. The event was filmed and, in the main hall, an audience well over 100 followed the space talk on a big screen.

At the same time, a 10 GHz ATV link sent the images to a nearby ATV repeater, linked to other ATV repeaters all over the country. In Brussels, the audio was broadcast by the national club station of the Royal Union of the Belgian Radioamateurs (UBA) in the 2m, 6m and 80m bands. Amateurs in neighbouring countries could also follow the contact real time.

Meanwhile, four radio and TV broadcasters covered the event which was also widely commented in national as well as local newspapers.

Tuesday morning 5 November 2002, NA1SS, operated by ON1DWN, contacted the amateur club station ON4ESC of the Euro Space Center, located in the mountanous Belgian Ardennes. A hundred high school students and their teachers were there on a three days Space Camp. They had won the Space oriented competition launched by the Euro Space Foundation, chaired by Belgian astronaut Dirk Frimout, ON1AFD.

Twenty students had been selected to ask their question to Frank De Winne. The radio contact was perfect and all twenty questions were precisely and appropriately answered by the astronaut. Frank said how much he appreciated this radio contact with youngsters, "our future", he said, pointing out that some of them most probably "will be working in a space station within twenty or thirty years from now".

The audio of both contacts will be available at

ARISS thanks ESA and RSC-Energia, as well as the Belgian Minister in charge of Scientific Research, for having included these two educative amateur radio contacts in Frank De Winne's mission.