August 22, 2009 

Saturday 22 August 2009, the Girl and Boy Scouts of Maur "Pfadimuur" in Forch, Switzerland, established a radio contact with ESA astronaut Frank DeWinne, ON1DWN, on board the International Space Station.

The international year of astronomy inspired a few scout guides from Maur near
Zrich, Switzerland, to create a special scout event, the Astrocamp 2009, where participants from 5 to 20 years shall learn about the following three topics which are scout qualifications: astronomy and space technology, communication technologies, journalism and public relation.

Therefore they planned 3 Saturdays, where about 100 active Pfadi Muur scouts have the possibility to visit one of the above named workshops. The event's highlight was the ARISS contact this morning, where children got the opportunity to talk to an astronaut. There will be more workshops later on such as a planet route, a telescope made out of a drain (astronomy) or a broadcasting local UKW radio station (journalism) as well as a self-constructed aircraft radio receiver in a second event open for public on September 19. The Swiss astronomy expert Bruno Stanek will hold a speech and together with people of a local observatory the scouts will have a look into the sky.

The contact coordinator Rolf Eberhard HB9TSO and his technical team under the supervision of Mario Malacarne HB0IRM set up a satellite station with automatic antenna tracking as well as a backup vertical antenna.

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

Due to unknown communication problems contact between HB9TSO and OR4ISS was established at
8:25 UTC, later than expected.

The questions were read by the scouts. Astronaut Frank DeWinne answered 12 questions in the remaining time slot. He explained for example that the astronauts onboard the ISS always have the meal together sitting around the table and discussing what happened during the day.

The audience was about 100 listeners: scouts, mass-media representatives, parents and interested parties. The signal from the ISS was clear and loud, but during the second question contact was interrupted for a moment due to the Doppler-effect.

TV channel TELETOP, radio stations DRS-3, DRS-1 Regional, Radio Energy, Radio 24, Radio Zrichsee and the newspaper Sonntagsblick covered the event.

ARISS is an international educational outreach program partnering the participating space agencies, NASA, Russian Space Agency, ESA, CNES, JAXA, and CSA, with the AMSAT and IARU organizations from participating countries.

ARISS offers an opportunity for students to experience the excitement of Amateur Radio by talking directly with crewmembers onboard the International Space Station. Teachers, parents and communities see, first hand, how Amateur Radio and crewmembers on ISS can energize youngsters' interest in science, technology and learning.

73, Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ, ARISS mentor