February 27, 2003


Thursday 27 February 2003 at 10:21 UTC, i.e. 11:21 local time, the Hochwald Gymnasium (Highschool) Wadern DL0WR in Saarland, Germany, performed a radio contact with US astronaut Donald Pettit, KD5MDT, Science Officer on board the International Space Station.

A few months ago, 16 students of the Hochwald Gymnasium Wadern decided to start an extraordinary performance: they prepared for the amateur radio exam.

Michael Kraus, DF3VM, the training teacher of the students did a great job: all 16 girls and boys became radio amateurs with their own callsign, and their first ham activity should be a contact to NA1SS. A dream became true.

Hubert Schaefer, DJ8VH, a responsible of the local amateur radio Club DARC-OV Wadern supported the youngsters with the preparation of the technical equipment.

He did also a very good job and set up the special satellite station in a professional way.

The students, the technical team, the principal of the school, Mr. Wagner, the teachers and the mass media gathered this morning and waited for the contact. The ISS called them exactly at the predicted time of AOS. During the contact the sound quality was very good, just few times a minimum of noise. The girls and boys were interested in technical matters, problems of physics in space, but also in the social habits on board the Space Station. The contact was perfectly timed, the LOS came after the farewell words of the training teacher, during the applause of the audience.

2 TV stations (Saarlaendische Rundfunk, Saar-TV), 2 radio stations (Radio RPR, Radio Salut) and 2 newspapers (Saarbruecker Zeitung) covered the event.

Most significant is that the ARISS contact gave birth to 16 new members of the amateur radio community.

A superb illustration of the education power of the ARISS school contacts!

Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ

ARISS Mentor