Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Space Station Astronaut Thanks Hams for Easing Loneliness

European Space Agency Astronaut Luca Parmitano, KF5KDP, reported on his blog that ham radio came to his rescue recently during a period when it was difficult to see the Earth from the International Space Station and he was feeling cut off from the world. After admitting that he had "never been into amateur radio" before, despite conducting several school contacts from the space station, he turned to ham radio "to establish some kind of 'contact' between the station and the Earth." When he turned on the ISS ham rig, he heard a station in Portugal calling NA1SS, the U.S. call sign for the space station. He responded using the station's Italian call, IR0ISS. The other operator, whom Parmitano did not identify, told him that contacting the ISS was "a dream come true." Parmitano made several more contacts over the next 15 minutes, noting that the world's amateur radio community had "wrapped me in a warm blanket of friendship and gratitude, oblivious to the fact that I'm the one who should be thanking them…"