10 December 2006


Friday night, 8 December 2006, an ARISS School Contact had been planned by Rosaviacosmos for cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin RZ3FT  with students of the “Erweiterte Realschule Weiskirchen”. The contact was scheduled at 22:10 UTC, i.e. 23:10 local time.


The questions were to be asked by 12 students who had studied for and successfully passed their amateur radio examination. They would operate with their personal callsign.


While once more testing the groundstation equipment in the afternoon before the contact, the Weiskirchen team discovered that the azimuth motor tracking feedback system was not working properly. They decided to change the motor. This was not an easy task, for there were high gales at 100km/hour.


The crossed Yagi antennas were reinstalled just in time, but tracking could not be optimized. There was also a groundplane backup antenna, but communications with the ISS were very difficult.


A second attempt was made during the next pass at 23:47 UTC, i.e. 00:47 local time. But the result was not better.


Mikhail Tyurin called several times but no solid copy could be achieved. Thomas Reiter was busy with other duties and did not participate to the contact.


Radio and TV of Saarland covered the event with reportages and interviews. Everybody regretted the negative result, hoping that the students would have better luck next time.


 ARISS, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, an international working group of several amateur radio societies from countries participating to the ISS, provides a free educational outreach programme in collaboration with the Space Agencies, involving a worldwide team of volunteering amateur radio operators.



Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARISS-Europe chairman