Hendricken, Bay View students to talk with space station astronauts via amateur radio Thursday

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Students at Bishop Hendricken and St. Mary Bay View Academy will make history when they talk with astronauts on the International Space Station via Amateur Radio at exactly 12:02 p.m. on Thursday. This will be the first contact of its kind with a Rhode Island high school.

Hendricken and Bay View held an “Ask the Astronaut” contest with their students and chose the top 16 most unique questions from nearly 200 entries. Eight students from each school will be the first high schoolers in Rhode Island to be given the rare opportunity to speak to the ISS as it orbits overhead at 17,500 miles an hour.

This activity is part of the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) Program, which promotes learning opportunities as part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) initiative.

The Bishop Hendricken contact will be using an amateur radio ground station located in Casale Monferrato, Italy operated by Mr. Claudio Arriotti, call sign IK1SLD.

Additionally, Bishop Hendricken has four students who recently earned their FCC amateur radio licenses. The “space chat” activity inspired the group to launch a Bishop Hendricken radio club and have been granted call sign W1BHX by the FCC.

ARISS is a joint venture by NASA, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) to facilitate communication via Amateur Radio between astronauts aboard the International Space Station and schools and communities around the world. ARISS programs excite and motivate students in a one-of-a-kind presentation and exchange.

ARISS program goals are:

· Inspiring an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects and in STEM careers among young people.

· Providing an educational opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public for learning about wireless technology and radio science through Amateur Radio.

· Providing an educational opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public for learning about space exploration, space technologies and satellite communications.

Amateur, or “Ham,” Radio, is a popular service and hobby in which federally licensed participants operate communications equipment. There are over 700,000 licensed amateurs and nearly 2,300 ARRL-affiliated Amateur Radio clubs in the United States. Hams talk to each other across town, around the world, and even into space without the need for normal communications infrastructure, such as cell phone networks or the Internet. Amateur Radio is regularly used during natural disasters to help local emergency and served agencies (such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and state and local governments) respond when normal communications methods are disrupted. The Amateur Radio community is a great source of electronics experimentation, public service, and fun.

The event at Hendricken, organized by RI Space Chat Director, Mike Cullen, will take place in Dr. Daniel S. Harrop Theater featuring video presentations culminating with the radio contact with the ISS and questions from the students. The event will be livestreamed, likely hitting a substantial RI and global audience.

More information on the RI Space Chat visit www.rispacestation.com. More information on the ARISS program can be found at www.ariss.org. More information on Amateur Radio can be found at www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio.

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