East Texas students to make radio call to NASA astronauts aboard space station

This month students from Huntington High School will have a rare opportunity to chat directly with the crew of the International Space Station.

Seven students who have obtained their Amateur Radio or “ham” licenses from the Federal Communications Commission will participate in the event with astronauts in space.

After submitting a proposal to Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), Huntington High was one of seven schools selected from around the country.

Ham radio uses frequencies of the radio spectrum allocated for non-commercial communication. Enthusiasts often construct their own radio stations to talk with other “hams” around the world.

These newly-licensed students will have a 10-minute window to take turns asking questions, according to engineering teacher Peggy Albritton, who also sponsors the school’s robotics team.

“They’re curious about what goes on up there day-to-day. Many are curious about (the astronauts) careers and how they got into what they do. They’re interested in the testing, the special excursions they go on, and in 3D design and how 3D printers are used in space,” she said.

Albritton and her students have been working with ARISS, an independent organization supported by NASA, to explore technologies involved with space communications through the use of amateur radio.

The encounter is scheduled to take place the last week in February from the Huntington High School campus as the space station passes overhead.

Thousands of students and amateur radio enthusiasts have communicated with the International Space Station since a ham radio system was delivered to the orbiting outpost in 2000. Previous amateur radio experiments were flown on the Space Shuttle since 1983, according to NASA.

According to the National Association for Amateur Radio, there are more than 600,000 ham operators in the U.S. and and over 2,000,000 worldwide.

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of KLTV/KTRE-TV or Gray Television. They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2019 Lane Luckie

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