More than a Year of Work for an Out-of-this-World Conversation

December 14, 2018

 

by Len Lathrop

What happened at the Hudson Memorial School gym on Dec. 7 was truly an out-of-this-world experience. It was a long-distance call that most children only dream about. Well, dreams came to life on Friday thanks to hard work from a group of students, boosted by leadership and direction from the Nashua Area Radio Society.

Hudson Memorial School had an unforgettable chat with astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor on the International Space Station.

At 1:49 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, call sign AB10C called NA1SS where the Hudson Memorial School gym was filled with eager students, staff, parents and members of the Nashua Area Radio Society as well as guests from other schools. Everyone was unusually quiet, one of those pin-drop moments, until the space station replied and an ear-splitting cheer erupted.

The sixth- through eighth-grade students knew about their school’s involvement with the radio society for the last year and a half and how it interfaced in-depth space science curriculum and participated in special events like Skype Astronomy Nights, STEM nights, and new lead-the-way pre-engineering program. Additionally, the enthusiastic middle school students have worked with the radio society with high-altitude balloon testing and radio licensing classes.

Friday was special as only .026 percent of the schools who apply to speak with an astronaut program are accepted. In January, Hudson Memorial learned that the school had been chosen. The entire school, students and teachers alike, were excited. Preparations began immediately and then the school community waited to find out when the actual date for the contact would be. By the due date, students had submitted 600 questions in all, which HMS teachers combed through to decide which 22 would be used.

HMS principal Keith Bowen spoke after the event about the hard work and experience that Fred Kemmerer and his Radio Society members put forth over the past year and half to make this all happen. The Nashua Area Radio Society members built an antenna in the school parking with a backup in the ball field, spent Wednesday setting up and testing equipment, and even provided audio equipment in the Nute Gym to achieve better sound quality and noise reduction.

While the space station was only over the Hudson horizon for nine and a half minutes, 15 of the 22 chosen questions from the students were transmitted and answered by astronaut Serena.

This historic event in Hudson was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.   The ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) proposal can be found at http://www.ariss.org/hosting-an-ariss-contact-in-theus.html.   Visit www.ariss.org for more information.