Around 150 children attending ESA's Space Camp 2006, in Patras, Greece, used amateur radio to talk to ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter on the International Space Station (ISS) last Saturday.
The so-called Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) event marked 'Astronaut Day' at the Space Camp and was attended by Marietta Giannakou, Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs. Head of the European Astronaut Centre and ESA astronaut Michel Tognini and ESA astronaut Reinhold Ewald were also present in Patras.
"NA1SS… do you copy? Over"
Using the Station's call sign NA1SS, the radio contact with ISS Expedition 13 crewmember Thomas Reiter was established with the help of a telebridge in Honolulu, Hawaii at exactly 15:27 CEST (12:27 UT).
Minister Giannakou was first to send her greetings to the Expedition 13 crew on board the Station. Reiter returned the greeting, explaining how the crew had enjoyed a beautiful pass over Greece and the Greek islands earlier that day.
"It's a great job"
Reiter went on to answer questions from the children. In response to a question from Christina he explained the importance of studying hard to become an astronaut. "You first have to study a scientific subject, physics, biology, or medicine," he said. "You need some professional experience working in a certain field. It depends a little bit on the health how long you can execute this career (...) It's a great job to work in."
In reply to a question from Zisis about when humans will settle on other planets, Reiter answered that he hopes that this will happen in the next 20 to 25 years so that he can still witness it.
More ESA ARISS contacts
A further two ARISS contacts with Thomas Reiter are planned during the Astrolab Mission. On 22 September 2006, schoolchildren will speak to Reiter from the Swiss Airforce Museum in Payerne, Switzerland. Swiss ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier will also be present.
A third ARISS contact with Reiter is planned for 20 November 2006, when the winning classes of the ESA and German Aerospace Centre (DLR) competition 'Ich will's wISSen' will gather at the Landesmuseums für Technik und Arbeit (LTA), in Mannheim, Germany.