March 27, 2009


Friday, 27 March 2009 at 14:05 UTC, i.e. 15:05 local time, “Alessandro Volta” School, Mandello del Lario, Italy, established a telebridge and direct contact with US astronaut Mike Fincke KE5AIT on board the International Space Station. This contact was a combination of direct and telebridge due to local antenna obscuration.  Assistance was provided by Amateur Radio school station in ISIS “Andrea Ponti”, Gallarate, Italy. The “Alessandro Volta” School operated the contact with callsign IZ2PBM and ISIS “Andrea Ponti” Gallarate operated the contact with callsign I2JRY.

“Alessandro Volta” is a co-ed primary and secondary school in Mandello del Lario, a little town in Northern Italy, situated on the shore of the Lake Como. The students are aged 6 to 14. Nine classes are involved in the ARISS project with students aged 12 to 14. Mandello del Lario is known for the motorcycle factory “Moto Guzzi”.

The students and the teachers share their interest with experts of the voluntary group “Deep Space” at Lecco city, discovering different aspects of Space. The students were involved in the preparation of this ARISS event in different ways. The training of the students comprised educative activities related to space under guidance of the teachers’ team, listening to ARISS contacts during the months before the ARISS event.

After the ARISS experiment during Eneide (2005) and Esperia Missions (2007), where some contacts were set up by two schools sharing the same event, ARISS mentor Francesco De Paolis, IK0WGF proposed to radio contact coordinator in Mandello to do new experiment, sharing the contact with another ground station to overcome the problem of local antenna obscuration in Mandello. Gianpietro Ferrario IZ2GOJ, contact coordinator for this ISS contact, decided in favour of a direct and telebridge contact due to the local obscuration. All questions were read by the students at “Alessandro Volta”. The contact sites were located in  both schools, where an audience of more than 50 (Gallarate) and 200 (Mandello) pupils, teachers, visitors and media could follow the contact. Before the contact, ARISS mentor Francesco De Paolis, IK0WGF introduced the event with an ARISS presentation.

The contact was stablished by I2JRY, then IZ2PBM took over and finally I2JRY ended the QSO. At 14:05 UTC, contact with OR4ISS was established by station I2JRY. Commander Mike Fincke answered 5 questions per telebridge. At 14:09 UTC, contact with OR4ISS was established by station IK2PBM. Commander Mike Fincke answered 7 questions in direct contact. At 14:12 UTC, contact with OR4ISS was established by station I2JRY. Commander Mike Fincke answered 4 more questions by telebridge. The signal from the ISS was loud and clear all time. The astronaut sent greetings, speaking in Italian, at the beginning of the contact. Thanks Mike!

Regional Television, including RAI 3, UnicaTV and Space-iTV, local media and newspapers covered the event. Streaming video counted 64 connections: Australia 2, Austria 1, Germany 3, France 2, French Guiana 1, Italy 48 and USA 7.

Congratulations to both ARISS “VOLTA and “PONTI” teams!


Francesco De Paolis, IK0WGF

ARISS mentor


Photo Volta 1
Photo Volta 2
Photo Ponti 1
Photo Ponti 2
Audio mp3