Tuesday 21 March 2006 at 13:54 UTC, i.e. 14:54 local time, the school “1°Circolo didattico Giuseppe Settanni” in Rutigliano near the city of Bari in south-east Italy performed a radio contact with US astronaut William McArthur, KC5ACR, onboard the International Space Station.


This radio contact was a common activity of two elementary schools (pupils aged 6 to 11) and one middle school (pupils aged 11 to 14) in Rutigliano:  the elementary schools “1°Circolo didattico Giuseppe Settanni” (500 pupils) and “2°Circolo didattico Aldo Moro” (475 pupils) and the middle school “Alessandro Manzoni” (615 pupils).


The questions were read by amateur radio operator Michele Mallardi, IZ7EVR.

Pupils, teachers, high representatives of military and civilian authorities and Principessa Elettra Marconi, daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, were present at the contact.


Michele Mallardi, IZ7EVR, the coordinator of the school station and operator of the radio contact, did an excellent job!

The technical team had set up a satellite station with automatic antenna tracking as well as a vertical backup antenna on the roof of the school “Giuseppe Settanni”.

They also installed the audio and video links from the shack at the “Giuseppe Settanni” school to the assembly halls of the two other schools “Aldo Moro” and “Alessandro Manzoni”.


At exactly 13:54 UTC, right on schedule, contact with NA1SS was established. Astronaut William McArthur answered 17 questions on several topics. He explained that, among the many experiments performed onboard the ISS, many study the human body so that we better understand how people can live and work for long periods of time in space.


The signals were absolutely clear and loud. After the 17th question Principessa Elettra Marconi spoke to the astronaut. While William was answering, the ISS went over the horizon and its signals went slowly down.


TV stations RAI3, Telenorba, Telepuglia, Telebari and Teleregione, radio station Canale 103 and newspapers Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, La Repubblica, Blu and Fax covered this ARISS event.


ARISS offers an opportunity for students to experience the excitement of Amateur Radio by talking directly with crewmembers on-board the International Space Station. Teachers, parents and communities see, first hand, how Amateur Radio and crewmembers on ISS can energize youngsters'

interest in science, technology, and learning.


ARISS is an international educational outreach program partnering the participating space agencies, NASA, Russian Space Agency, ESA, JAXA, and CSA, with the amateur radio societies from participating countries.


Further information on the ARISS program is available on the website https://www.ariss-eu.org.


73, Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ, ARISS mentor