Teenagers, members of an amateur astronomers club, had a very special meeting Thursday July 24, 2003.

They gathered in the Brussels Planetarium which is an annex of the Royal Observatory of Belgium. On the hemispheric dome a beamer projected the planisphere showing the ISS progressing. The next pass would be the good one. The ISS was heading for Johannesburg, South-Africa.

Indeed, this was going to be a "telebridge". The ARISS ground station in charge of the radio contact was Gerald Klatzko, ZS6BTD, located in Jo'burg. From his radio shack the audio was relayed to Brussels by teleconference, courtesy of MCI.

In the Brussels Planetarium, the operator and the youngsters used a speakerphone system and the audio was amplified by the Planetarium's public address for an audience of about one hundred.

Right on time, as usually, astronaut Ed Lu answered Gerald's call, inviting the youngsters to put their questions.

Gloria: "What impresses you most when you look to the earth"? Ed: "It's how beautiful it is: the rich blue colors of the ocean to the white of the clouds, and the red colors of the deserts of Australia or Africa to the dark green colors of the rain forest...it's all incredibly beautiful".

Ed answered thirteen questions before the pass came to an end. Greetings were exchanged and a big applaus sent to the astronaut who so kindly had responded to the curiosity of his young audience.

Two TV stations and a radio broadcast station covered the event and interviewed the participants. The Belga press agency was also present.

Moreover, the MCI phone company not only offered the teleconference but also put this ARISS contact on a webcast, a first.

Let us bet that more than one who participated to the space talk will have a lot to dream of, even - who knows - of becoming an astronaut...

Gaston Bertels, ON4WF
ARISS vice chairman

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