7 May 2007




Saturday 5 May at 13:39 UTC, i.e. 15:39 local time, the “Erweiterte Realschule Weiskirchen” DL0ERW in Weiskirchen, Germany, established a radio contact with US astronaut Sunita Williams, KD5PLB, on board the International Space Station.


Weiskirchen is a small town in the Bundesland Saarland on the border to Luxembourg and France. The tourist sector is very important for the economy of the region.


The Erweiterte Realschule Weiskirchen is a general education school for students from age 11 to age 18. At present about 540 students attend the school. Concerning school partnerships there are contacts to schools in Luxemburg, France, Italy, Scotland, Spain and Rumania.


The school amateur radio club DL0ERW was founded recently. The main purpose is to prepare pupils to pass the amateur radio examination and become licensees. The club station supports education by demonstrating the possibilities of modern amateur radio technologies like packet radio, satellite communication via the "OSCARs", ATV, SSTV and so on. The club cooperates with the German Amateur Radio Club "DARC" and the "Arbeitskreis Amateurfunk in der Schule - AATiS". As special example concerning the project the school has successfully performed the start of a balloon to the stratosphere last November.

The technical team of Weiskirchen set up a satellite station with automatic antenna tracking.


At 13:39 UTC contact with NA1SS was established by the school contact operator Wolfgang Klein, DD1WKS. Astronaut Sunita Williams answered accurately 18 questions on various topics. The astronaut replied for example that in an emergency they can go to Sojus and come back to Earth within five hours. The signal was excellent all the time. Then, after the 18th question the coordinator Wolfgang Klein said Goodbye to the astronaut and let her listen to the applause of the students. The audience in the shack room was about 50 people.


The two newspapers “Saarbrücker Zeitung” and “Hochwald Rundschau” covered the event.


73, Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ, ARISS mentor