SEARS hoping to contact space station

The South East Essex Amateur Radio Society were featured on page 4 of tonight’s Echo newspaper, announcing plans to make contact with the International Space Station as part of the ARISS schools programme.

After a successful contact with the ISS in 2005, SEARS is again looking to set up a schools contact, this time with Canvey Island’s Winter Gardens Primary School. According to the feature in the Echo, they are on a waiting list of 40 schools around the world for a rare chance for pupils at a school to ask questions of orbiting astronauts aboard the ISS.

Cutting from Evening Echo March 2013
Cutting from Evening Echo March 2013

Voice contact the crew is rare (although ISS contact via packet is achievable), due to the way that the ISS orbits, and the busy workload of the crew. The station travels overhead at 17,500mph and is approximately 250 miles above us, meaning that the window of opportunity for a line-of-sight contact with the station station is limited to a handful of passes a day, for around nine minutes per pass.

In the article, SEARS President and Secretary Dave Speechley G4UVJ outlines that the club and the school will only have one chance to get it right, and various dry runs will be held to make sure that a successful contact can be had

If you’re interested in what a school exchange sounds like, here’s our YouTube clip of a contact with an Italian school in November 2012 (ISS Schools Contact Nov 2012)


We wish all at SEARS good luck in getting a coveted slot in the ARISS schools programme, and look forward to hearing some junior Essex Hams making a memorable contact with the International Space Station soon.

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