Wednesday 8 March 2006 at 14:56 UTC, i.e. 15:56 local time, the EVANGELISCHES GYMNASIUM LIPPSTADT in Lippstadt, Germany established a radio contact with US astronaut William McArthur, KC5ACR, on board the International Space Station.


The Evangelisches Gymnasium Lippstadt is a grammar school belonging to the Protestant Church of Westfalia. At present about 900 pupils aged 10 to 19 attend our school. The school has set itself the ambitious aim to integrate the vast part of the necessary preparations for the ISS contact into its school curriculum. The preparation will be part of the school lessons. In addition to working with the ISS education kit, many questions arousing from the theoretical field of amateur radio technology (technical knowledge) were well combined with compulsory topics of an extensive physics course. The youngsters´ goal is to obtain an amateur radio operator’s license.


Ralf Karrasch, DF4DC, the radio contact coordinator for this ISS contact and the teacher Daniel Ahrens, DO7DAN, supported the participating kids in a fantastic way in their preparation for the amateur radio license exam. The goal was perfectly achieved because they have all recently passed the exam and now they are waiting for their own amateur radio operator’s license from the authority. Congratulation to the new members of our worldwide radio ham family!


The technical team of different local amateur radio clubs set up a satellite station with automatic antenna tracking as well as a secondary backup station with a vertical antenna on the roof of the school.


The school shack was located in the huge assembly hall where the audience of 400 listeners such as students, parents and teachers could follow the contact.


At 14:56:30 UTC contact with NA1SS was established. Astronaut William McArthur answered 21 questions on various topics. The astronaut replied for example that “right now the Space Station produced about 18kW of power. When it is complete, it will produce 110kW”.


The signal was all the time absolutely clear and loud. The circular polarization of the downlink signal changed from left-hand side to right-hand side and vice versa several times during the contact. Then, during the answer of the 21st question, the ISS went over the horizon and its signal went slowly down.


The TV channel Westdeutscher Rundfunk WDR, the newspaper "Der Patriot" (first appearance in 1848) and the two radio channels Hellweg-Radio and WDR 1 Live covered the event.

The Radio station WDR 1 Live did even a live coverage of the contact.



Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ

ARISS mentor