Ham Radio Operator Speaks With Space Station

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Ned Carroll a Canadian amateur radio operator has spoken with people from around the world but nothing could have prepared him for this encounter.

Mr. Carroll spoke on Thursday with Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American space tourist aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The small radio inside Mr. Carroll’s Canadian farmhouse, was tuned to the space station’s frequency and picked up its signal at around noon. He heard a slightly accented woman’s voice coming through the speakers of his ham radio.

“I heard her say, ‘C-Q, C-Q, C-Q,’ and of course that means she wants to talk to someone, anyone who is listening,” Mr. Carroll said. “And I thought: What the heck, you can’t lose by trying.”

He grabbed the microphone and said, “V-E-5-N-E-D,” his call sign, and anxiously awaited a response. The wait wasn’t long, as the voice responded immediately, repeating, “This is R-S-0-I-S-F,” which is the Russian Space Station call sign, and then the voice revealed her name, “Anousheh Ansari.”

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When Ms. Ansari, co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea System, Inc., lifted off on the Soyuz TMA-9 mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 18, she became the fourth, and first female, space tourist. She reportedly paid US$20-million for an eight-day visit aboard the ISS and was already trying to make contact with Earth.

“I was pretty excited,” Mr. Carroll said. “And the next thing I was so excited about was when she said, ‘You are the first amateur radio operator that I have contacted from the International Space Station,’ and I said, ‘Wow!’ ”

There are thousands of ham radio operators worldwide, but Mr. Carroll is one of a small number of people who have made contact with the space station, said Bjarne Madsen, midwest regional director of Radio Amateurs of Canada.

“It’s quite rare,” Mr. Madsen said. “There are a great many people who want to [make contact with the ISS] and only a few that succeed because there is, after all, only one ISS and it’s only there for a few minutes at any given time and the opportunity to actually make contact with it is very slim.”

Mr. Madsen said the space station creates a line a few hundred kilometres wide at best, moving across the Earth as it orbits. A radio operator who happens to fall within that line as it passes by, within an eight- to 10-minute window of opportunity, can communicate with the ISS, he said.

“Not only is it possible to do, but it doesn’t take any sophisticated equipment particularly,” Mr. Madsen said. “It’s really a question of knowing where to listen and when to listen.”

Within the small window of time, Mr. Carroll said he and Ms. Ansari were able to give only their locations, comment on how well they could hear each other and then exchange goodbyes. Afterwards, he said, many questions came to his head that he wished he had had time to ask her. But he said he is going to keep his radio turned on in the hope of speaking with her again, even though he knows his chances are slim.

“Amateur radio is a wonderful hobby, and every once in a while something like this comes along and you really enjoy it,” Mr. Carroll said.

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Via: (Canada.com)

[tags]amateur radio,canada,russian space station,space news,ham radio,Anousheh Ansari[/tags]