March 05, 2009


Astronauts are extensively trained for the many duties they have to face during a space mission onboard the International Space Station. These tasks are related to the building and maintenance of the Station, as well as to the scientific experiments performed onboard. Amateur Radio educative schoolcontacts are among the activities of the astronauts and ARISS training is part of their programme.

Exactly the same amateur radio equipment which is onboard the Space Station is operational in the copy of the ISS Service module at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Astronauts operate this station with callsign W5RRR for ARISS simulation contacts.

ARISS simulation contacts follow the same procedure as ARISS school contacts. Questions are prepared by students and submitted to the astronaut before the contact. Local radioamateurs set up the communication facilities and perform the contact in the school.

Radiocommunication between JSC and the school uses the IRLP network. W5RRR connects to an IRLP node in the Houston area and the school station connects to a nearby IRLP node.

Wednesday 4 March 2009, an ARISS Simulation Contact was set up for Dutch astronaut André Kuipers with Technopolis, Mechelen, Belgium.

Technopolis®  is a permanent platform for science and technology in Mechelen, Flanders, Belgium.  The mission of Technopolis® is to bring science and technology to the people. For this purpose Technopolis® offers permanent and temporary exhibitions, organises workshops, school activities and other outreach activities for 4 to 99 years old: a Science Week and Science Festival, an annual exhibition at the Royal Palace in Brussels and many activities for a variety of organisations (governmental, private and educational). Technopolis® is also involved in a broad range of European projects to promote science and technology to a broad audience.


André Kuipers kindly answered following questions:

1. Did you do many experiments when you were onboard the ISS?

2. What was the first thing you did when you returned to earth?

3. How does an astronaut go to the bath room ?

4. What is your greatest fear about what might happen to you in space?

5. What is the temperature in the ISS? Is it stable?

6. Are there plans for an automated space station without astronauts onboard? Or is there still hope to have a job as an astronaut?

7. How do you live with many people in such a small place?

8. What if you need a haircut while you are in space?

9. How do you sleep in space?

10. What do you think about space tourism?

11. What if you break your leg?

12. How do you wash yourself?

13. When astronauts are homesick, what can they do about it ?

14. Are you afraid to bump into a satellite?

15. Can you play chess in space?

16. Is it quiet in the ISS? Or is there a constant noise?

17. Does your mobile phone work in space?

18. Do you have a certain ritual to bring you luck?

19. Can you see the whole earth when you look outside?

20. Can you throw a boomerang in space? Will it return?


An audio recording of the contact is hereto appended.

Regional Television and a national newspaper covered the event.



Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARISS-Europe Chairman


Audio mp3