January 20, 2003


One hundred years ago, 18 January 1903 Mr. Marconi sent a message from U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to Great Britain's King Edward VII using his wireless station located on Cape Cod. Later that same evening , King Edward VII sent a message back to President Roosevelt, demonstrating the effectiveness of wireless and starting a communications revolution.

The ARISS Contact at the Marconi Centennial Event was a tremendous success. The significance of the event, the fact that Princess Marconi, (Guglielmo Marconi's daughter) was there and sent her greeting to the ISS crew, and its co-incidence to the day of Marconi's historic transatlantic contact sent tears to the eyes of many who there, men and women alike. This contact was one of the more impressive and awe-inspiring contacts ARISS has ever accomplished.

The ARISS contact was held at the Cape Cod National Seashore located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts on Saturday January 18, 2003. The National Park Service's visitor center auditorium was standing room only with nearly 300 people in the room. Many others listened to the contact through the loudspeakers that were mounted throughout the building.

The contact was established with ISS Commander Ken Bowersox and the ARISS Hawaii ground station and then patched to the auditorium using the telebridge system. At 17:00 UTC (noon local time) the students from 3 schools, Provincetown High School, Cape Cod Technical and Vocational School and Nauset Regional High School, were poised and ready for the contact. Princess Elettra Marconi, Guglielmo Marconi's youngest daughter, sent the initial greetings to Commander Bowersox. Her greetings: "In this same spirit of" her father's achievement, "and also from Cape Cod, I send this wireless greeting to you in space. Cordial greetings, good wishes and God bless you" was proceeded with a proud round of applause from the audience. Commander Bowersox returned with "It is amazing how far society and radio communications has come in the last 100 years. It is wonderful to hear your voice across the radio waves".

Eight students from the three schools then proceeded to ask Commander Bowersox 18 questions about life in space and his view of the Earth below. Some of the questions asked included "Would you volunteer for a trip deeper into space?" ans) "Only if I can bring my family along.", "Do you ever get motion sickness?" ans) "Sometimes during high aerobatic maneuvers....but am enjoying my spaceflight with no motion sickness present"

Prior to the ARISS contact, NASA GSFC Aerospace Education Specialist Suzanne Kinnison gave the audience a first hand description of what NASA does and what it is like to live and work in space. The ARISS team also erected the ARISS 10 foot display (from the IMAX event) at the visitor center. The ARISS contact culminated a one year education effort started by the National Park Service and NASA to pique students interest in science and technology.

In addition to the ARISS contact, many other events coincided with the contact. These included an Amateur Radio Special Event station, where over 12,000 contacts were made during the week with many countries around the world, a special commemorative postal cancellation, a tour of the Marconi Site by Princess Marconi and a special reception the evening of January 18 to commemorate the first two-way radio transmission.

As part of the program reception, a transmission of a commemorative message from President George W. Bush was performed. As a NASA representative, Frank Bauer, ARISS Chairman was asked to describe the relationship between Marconi's technological achievement and how it has impacted NASA as an agency. Cody Johston, one of the students who talked to Commander Bowersox earlier that day, gave a very inspiring speech on how the Marconi event activities, including the ARISS contact, have focused his career plans to the point where he is applying at Stanford and Princeton University to become an Aerospace Engineer and is actively pursuing becoming an astronaut. Like Commander Bowersox, one day he hopes to communicate with students from space.

There were numerous members from the press at the ARISS event. The ARISS contact was covered on AP radio, and AP news service, the Boston Globe, the Cape Cod Times, NECN (New England Cable News), the Cape Cod Local Access Channel, and Italian Television.