Sunday morning April 25 2004, the pupils and students, selected for the radio contact with Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, gathered in the  radio room of the amateur radio club of the Technical University of Eindhoven, the Netherlands.


They belonged to three educational institutions:

- Saltoschool Hanevoet (primary school)

- Sint Joriscollege (secundary school)

- Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (university).

In the main hall of the University, located in a nearby building, the audience could participate to the event presented on several big TV screens.

At 10:20 local time, the operator of PI4TUE, the Radio Club station, started calling. He called for several minutes but no answer came from Space. Evidently something had gone wrong.

Upon enquiry at ESA’s ground control, it appeared that astronaut Andre Kuipers had been busy with an experiment he could not finish in time for the ARISS contact.

It was decided to reschedule the TUE contact for the next pass, at 09:55 UTC, which was 11:55 local time. The students, the audience and the media remained in standby.

When PI4TUE started calling again the tension was hardly bearable. But here he was!! Andre Kuipers came back loud and clear and answered 20 questions under excellent conditions. Although this was a mere 19 degrees pass, with the ISS cruising over southern France.

Quite an experience for the youngsters as well as for the PI4TUE team. The TUE Radio Club had done an excellent job from the technical point of vue, setting up the radioroom right under the tracking antennas on top of the 80m high building, with ATV and webcast all over the country.

The audio of the contact is available at the appended link.

Gaston Bertels

ARISS-Europe chairman

TUE audio