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Successful contact for Beaconsfield State School, Australia with Paolo Nespoli IZØJPA

On Thursday the 26th October 2017 at 6:21 P.M. local time, thirteen students from Beaconsfield State School conducted a live Telebridge amateur radio Q&A session with Italian ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli on the International Space Station.

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A crowd of about 300 students, parents VIP’s and teachers gathered at the school from 5.00 PM where the School P&C provided a BBQ with a variety of cooked food and drinks on offer. At least one visitor travelled over 390Km for Townsville just to attend the event.

One newspaper reporter and one local radio announcer were in attendance for the event.

We received our telephone call at 5:47PM linking Beaconsfield State School with Claudio IK1SLD in Italy and Tony VK5ZAI in South Australia. Prior to the contact we conducted a simulated Q&A session with the students which assisted in setting the required audio levels.

IK1SLD established contact right on schedule. The audio quality from IK1SLD was brilliant - very clear from horizon to horizon and Paolo was very easy to understand.

Paolo was “amazing” with the students and many parents commented after the contact on how well Paolo interacted with the young students. The radio contact lasted approximately 10 minutes duration and during this time the students managed to ask all 13 questions, they received all 13 answers and we also had enough time for Science Teacher Anna Berrigan to close off with a final thank you to Paolo with a loud applause from the audience.

In the hour leading up to the event the school had set up several space theme displays, with some students dressing up as astronauts (the costumes were great!) and a display of several photos of Paolo Nespoli were posted around the building. In addition several video screens were set up throughout the school hall with ISS tracking displays, BATC streaming display (Tony VK5ZAI streamed to BATC) as well as a portable satellite ground station that was set up in the hall that emulated what was occurring at Claudio’s ground station – the portable ground station was complete with tracking antennas and Doppler correction. The portable ground station display prompted many questions from the audience.

A special thank you to local business NQBE Mackay (North Queensland Business Equipment) for their assistance in preparing the all-important telephone line was made by Principal Cameron Wayman.

Immediately after the event, 4 members of the Mackay Tropical Stargazer Group invited all in attendance out into the school grounds where they had set up a number of large telescopes for planet viewing. One of the highlights that occurred after our scheduled contact was to see the ISS pass over Queensland (at low elevation) – this pass was about 40 minutes after our ARISS contact. This was the first time many in the audience had actually seen the ISS pass over.

In all a very highly successful and enjoyable event.

73 de Shane VK4KHZ


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