Tuesday, November 12, 2019

West Point Cadets Contact Astronaut Via Ham Radio

Col. Stephen Hamilton, KJ5HY (left), officer in
charge of the West Point amateur radio club, watches
while Class of 2022 Cadet Nolan Pearce talks with
Col. Drew Morgan, KI5AAA, aboard the International
Space Station on Oct. 19 via amateur radio.
(US Army photo by Brandon O'Connor)
The U.S. military may have some of the world's most sophisticated communica- tions networks, but when it came to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy talking with astronaut and West Point alumnus Col. Drew Morgan aboard the International Space Station, the preferred method was via ham radio.
The October contact between the U.S. Military Academy Amateur Radio Club, W2KGY, and Morgan, KI5AAA (operating as NA1SS) was organized through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. The ground end of the contact was overseen by Col. Stephen Hamilton, KJ5HY, a research scientist at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point and Officer-in-Charge of the ham radio club, which has held W2KGY since 1937.

West Point Cadet Easton Bolin talks via ham radio
with Col. Drew Morgan, KI5AAA, operating NA1SS
aboard the International Space Station.
(US Army photo by Brandon O'Connor)
Morgan is a 1998 West Point graduate, according to the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, and answered questions from cadets during the brief 10-minute orbital "window" about the Army's role in space operations and how he works through challenges on board the space station. 

"The things that have gotten me through the tough times," he told them, "is thinking about serving something bigger than myself … The thing that motivates me is knowing that I've been serving my country since I showed up at West Point as an 18-year-old."

According to Hamilton, this was the second ARISS contact from West Point, but the first using West Point equipment. The prior contact, he said, was in 2007.