November 22, 2004




Friday 19 November 2004 at 14:34 UTC, i.e. 15:34 local time, the school center “Direzione Didattica Statale 1° Circolo” in Polignano a Mare near the city of Bari in south-east Italy performed a radio contact with US astronaut Leroy Chiao, KE5BRW, on board the International Space Station.


The school center “Direzione Didattica Statale 1° circolo” in Polignano-a-Mare consists of the elementary schools (pupils aged 6 to 11) “San Giovanni Bosco” (400 pupils) and “Gianni Rodari” (400 pupils) and the comprehensive school (pupils aged 11 to 14) “Pompeo Sarnelli” (600 pupils). Polignano-a-Mare is a small town located near the city of Bari in South-east Italy.


Michele Mallardi, IZ7EVR, the coordinator of the school station and operator of the radio contact, did a very good job!

The technical team of the local amateur radio club “Sezione ARI di Castellana Grotte” set up a satellite station with automatic antenna tracking as well as a vertical backup antenna on the roof of the school “San Giovanni Bosco”. They also set up a second backup satellite station at the comprehensive school “Pompeo Sarnelli” in case of misfunction of the primary station. They also installed the audio and video links from the shack at the “San Giovani Bosco” school to the assembly halls of the two other schools “Giovanni Rodari” and “Pompeo Sarnelli”. The installation of the antennas was covered by the local TV station “Canale 7”.


The audience in the school shack was about 70 listeners: pupils, teachers, high representatives of the Ministry of Education, of the civilian and military authorities: the President of the Region Puglia, the President of the Province of Bari, the Mayor of Bari, the President of the Community Council of Bari, the regional Commanders in chief of the Aviation, the Army, the Navy, the Military Police and the Customs, and the official Representative of the Italian Government in Bari.


At exactly 14:34 UTC, right on schedule, contact with NA1SS was established. Astronaut Leroy Chiao answered 18 questions on any topics. He explained for instance the muscle training program on board the ISS. A further answer was about food: they sometimes eat italian spaghetti.


The signal was all the time absolutely clear and loud. Then, after the 18th question the operator Michele Mallardi, IZ7EVR, let him listen to the applause of the audience.


The satellite TV station “Puglia Channel Satellite”, the national TV station “RAI 3”, the local TV stations “Telenorba”, “Antenna Sud”, “Canale 7”, “Telepuglia”, “Mediaset”, the radio stations “Radioamicizia”, “Radionorba”, “Radio Elle”, the newspapers “La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno”, “Fax”, “Blu”, “L´informatore” and the amateur radio magazines “Radio Rivista” and “Radio Kit Elettronica” covered the event.


The satellite TV station “Puglia Channel” broadcasts the event this Friday at 17:30 UTC on Hotbird 13° East 12519MHz (V).


Giving young people an idea of the impact and the fascinating aspects of amateur radio by demonstrating a direct contact to the Space Station was a goal perfectly achieved!


Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ

ARISS mentor

Michele, IZ7EVR, speaks to the astronaut