ARISS-Europe News Bulletin Ė 15.06.2006




Tuesday 13 June 2006 at 13:38 UTC, British students had an exciting space talk with US astronaut Jeff Williams, KD5TVQ, onboard the International Space Station.


About 60 students and their teachers from Gillingham School, Dorset, UK are on Space Camp this week at the Euro Space Center. ESC is a residential (100 beds) Space Camp for youngsters (8-18), located in Belgium near Bastogne (see Battle of the Bulge, Christmas 1944). Youngsters from many European countries come on Space Camp to ESC where monitors handle several languages. ESC also hosts a permanent Space Expo and a restaurant open to visitors, as well as amateur radio club station ON4ESC.


This week, the ISS passes over Europe occur at night. Therefore, the ARISS School Contact at ESC was done per telebridge. ARISS ground station W6SRJ, located in Junior College, Santa Rosa California, established the radio contact with the ISS and Verizon Conferencing offered the phone link to Belgium. W6SRJ was operated by Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, assisted by Don Dalby, KH6UAY. Will Marchant, KC6ROL moderated the contact. At the Euro Space Center, operations were handled by Gaston Bertels, ON4WF and Philippe Van houte, ON5PV.


Twenty students (age 15-17) had been prepared carefully for the space talk, queuing to read their question loud and clear in the microphone, without losing any time. Once the contact established,all twenty questions were answered by Jeff Williams :


- seeing all the details of the earth is a unique experience

- launch and docking went pretty much as expected

- we get up at 06:00 GMT and go to bed at 10:00

- we have a special toilet onboard; bodily waste is collected in sealed containers and put in the Progress which burns up completely on re-entry

- to become an astronaut the best suited studies are sciences, engineering or the medical field

- it has never happened that an astronaut had to leave the space station on short notice because of illness or accident; we have a lot of medical equipment onboard

- considering the commitment of several countries, a manned space flight to mars around 2020 seems realistic

- the sea wave of a tsunami would only be visible from space under a given angle of sun reverberation, but the destructions are clearly visible

- we have redundant sources of oxygen onboard and repair of the electric oxygen generator causes no real worry

- the space station is a noisy environment; we have earplugs at our disposal, but I donít use them

- the Soyuz, the Progress and the future European ATV are sufficient for maintaining a permanent crew onboard, but the Shuttle is needed to install the European and the Japanese modules and achieve complete construction of the station

- when two crewmembers perform an EVA the advantage is they can help each other

- fumes of volcanoes are very easy to see; a few weeks ago I saw an eruption in the Alaskan Aleutian islands

- we can see meteor tracks in the atmosphere when looking down in the night sky; I saw some on a previous mission

- the rising moon looking bigger than when it is high in the sky is an atmospheric phenomenon; from space it is quite different

- many experiences we perform in space are beneficial for life on earth, for example research on renal stones and bones disease

- I see dust storms and haze but it is difficult to say if there is pollution in it; general atmospheric pollution is not easily observable, but some forms of pollution, such as big fires, are easy to see

- looking at the earth from space and seeing how beautiful it is makes you aware what we have been given and how much we should take care of it

- when going to bed and closing the eyes in the dark, I experience light flashes in the corner of the eye; they say this is due to cosmic rays

- after two months in space, weightlessness has become a quite natural feeling.


The audience thanked Jeff Williams for this space talk by sending him a huge applause. Before the ISS went over the horizon in Santa Rosa, Jeff had still time enough to wish the students a enjoyable space camp. He also encouraged them to study hard and said perhaps some of them would contribute to space exploration and even go to mars. †††††††


In the auditorium, not only the sixty British students assisted to the event, but also fifty French schoolchildren who were visiting the Euro Space Center for just one day. When the contact was over and Will Marchant had congratulated and thanked the volunteering team members, the telebridge came to an end. Next, for the benefit of the French visitors, a teacher translated the questions and the answers into French.


The ARISS School Contact was broadcast on IRLP by Waine Harasimovitch, VE1WPH and on Echolink by Dieter Schliemann, KX4Y.


An audio recording and pictures of this space contact are hereto attached.





Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARISS-Europe chairman

ESC audio
ESC picture 1
ESC picture 2
ESC picture 3