Our amateur radio contact with the International Space Station (June 8, 2013)
Astronomy Camp speaks live with astronaut Chris Cassidy
Beginning Teen Astronomy Campers communicated live with astronaut Chris Cassidy (KF5KDR) onboard the International Space Station as it orbited 250 miles above Australia. Our 10-minute question and answer session took place on Saturday, June 8 (2013) at 12:55 pm in the auditorium of the Department of Astronomy on the campus of The University of Arizona. The event was broadcast live to the entire Tohono O'odham Nation by KOHN Radio (91.9 MHz) with two former Astronomy Campers serving as technicians and announcers. This opportunity was provided by the international network of amateur radio volunteers ("hams") known as ARISS Program Amateur Radio on the International Space Station. Our contact session was facilitated by amateur radio operator Mr. Gene Chapline (K5YFL, Texas), Mr. Shane Lynd (VK4KHZ, ground station operator in Glenden, Queensland, Australia), and arranged by Ms. Trinesha Dixon (NASA point of contact).

The Campers submitted their twenty questions (see below) prior to arrival at Camp so the questions could be uploaded to the ISS in advance. Upon arrival in Tucson (June 5), we began preparing for the contact by practicing radio communication language, building crystal radios, designing and racing "Newton's Cars," learning about the physics of spaceflight and weightlessness, touring the Arizona Radio Observatory, and observing the night sky with telescopes and cameras. We also observed several nighttime passes of the ISS over our location at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Throughout the Camp we were inspired and challenged by numerous video clips from the ISS and the U.S. Manned Space Program, listed below.

After the event we toured the local facilities (the "Shack") of K7UAZ the University's Amateur Radio Club. Co-chair Mr. Steve Alexander (KD7SPY) graciously led our tour. We also toured the Mirror Lab to learn firsthand about manufacturing telescope mirrors as large as 8.4 meters in diameters for future 25 meter telescopes. Before beginning our two-hour trip back to Kitt Peak we had a refreshing drink at the Student Union and a Mexican dinner at Steward Observatory.

On June 10 (6 pm), we posed (30 minutes! with jokes by Austin) for the ISS's ISERV camera to take our picture at the summit of Kitt Peak. The ISERV Camera includes a HyperStar camera system designed by Starizona. A similar system on a Celestron 11-inch telescope was used at night by our Campers.

Audiovisuals of our ARISS conversation
Educational preparations
Candid pictures of related educational activities
Building Crystal Radios
Racing Newton's Cars
Watching the ISS Pass Overhead
Touring K7UAZ
Posing for the ISERV camera
Press coverage
Our partners
ARISS: Amateur Radio on the International Space Station
K7UAZ Amateur Radio Club of The University of Arizona
KOHN Radio (91.9 MHz; Voice of the Tohono O'odham Nation)
Arizona Public Media
Tuition scholarships were provided by the Sun City Vistoso Astronomy Club to five students from the Coronado K-8 School and by NIRCam for JWST to a Girl Scout from Florida as part of our educational partnership with the Girl Scouts of the USA.