It was just about 20 years ago – December 21, 2000 – that the first school contact from the International Space Station was made through the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) program. ARISS is looking for participants in that first contact, between astronaut Bill Shepherd and students at the Luther Burbank School in Burbank, Illinois. Former students, family members or staff who took part are urged to contact Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, via e-mail to his call sign @aol.com.
COVID-19 has severely limited current ARISS contacts, but at least one school has been able to make it happen. Teacher Kelly Cammarano, KM6SMW, of the Ramona Lutheran Christian School in Ramona, California, coordinated the first direct ARISS contact in the U.S. since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in mid-October. The school had resumed in-person classes at the end of August. The students talked with Expedition 63 commander Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR, just days before he returned to Earth after nearly six months in orbit.