February 7, 2009



Saturday 7 February 2009, at 10:37 UTC the "Staedtlisches Gymnasium Herzogenrath" in Herzogenrath, Germany, established a radio contact with US astronaut Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, on board the International Space Station. 

Herzogenrath is a small town near
Aachen in the Bundesland North Rhine-Westphalia on the border to The Netherlands and Belgium.

The "Staedtlisches Gymnasium Herzogenrath" is a well-established grammar school in Herzogenrath. At present 1142 students aged 10 to 19 attend the school with the aim to do their "Abitur" (A-level). Most of them come from a suburban area. As the school is closely situated to the Dutch border, they are eager to establish a profound cooperation with a Dutch comprehensive school. Furthermore they encourage the students to take part in school exchanges, for example to Bistritz in
Romania and to Belfast, Northern Ireland, or to spend a year abroad. The "St䤴isches Gymnasium" is delighted in offering its students a wide range of extra curricular activities to meet the students' interests that are going beyond school topics and to consolidate their knowledge in various fields. One these extra curricular clubs is the "Funk-AG" (radio amateur club) whose members have initiated the project on the international space station.

The school contact coordinator Harald Metzen, DL1KMH, and his technical team of the local amateur radio club (DARC) set up two satellite stations with automatic antenna tracking as well as a second backup station with a vertical antenna.

Graham Lawton, G7EVY, helped the technical team in feeding into the AMSAT Echolink server.

At 10:37 UTC, i.e.
11:37 local time, contact between DR0G and OR4ISS was established. The questions were read by the students. Astronaut Mike Fincke answered all the 20 questions. He explained for example that in case of emergency the astronauts can come back home on a rescue space capsule which is the Russian Sojus. The audience was about 350 listeners: students, teachers and parents.

The signal from the ISS was good, just a fading in the middle of the contact and a minimum of noise during the last two minutes, probably because of the low pass. While Mike was answering the 20th question, the ISS went over the horizon and its signal was lost.

The national TV channel WDR, the two radio stations WDR-Radio and Radio Aachen, and a few local newspapers covered the event.

Congratulations to the Herzogenrath team!

73, Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ

ARISS mentor

image 1
image 2
image 3
image 4
audio mp3