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School for Deaf Children Talked to an Astronaut on the International Space Station in a World First Radio Communication

On Tuesday 12th October 2021 at 12:12 BST / 11:12 UTC, Lloyd Farrington from the Newbury and District Amateur Radio Society (NADARS) called the International Space Station using Amateur Radio equipment and callsign GB4MHN to enable ten deaf children to speak to NASA Astronaut Mark T. Vande Hei.

The children at the Mary Hare School for deaf children in Newbury spoke to the Astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as it orbited above them at over 17,000 miles per hour.

The Society, who celebrate their 100th Anniversary in 2022, applied to make the contact on behalf of the school in 2020. An original date of April 2021 for the contact was sadly postponed due to Covid-19 but was then rescheduled for this month.

This was a world first, when a group of deaf children each asked a question to the astronaut who then answered the question. The reply was also interpreted in to subtitles for the children to 'hear'.

The event was made possible by the world-wide organisation ARISS (Amateur Radio International Space Station) that heads up the radio contacts for space agencies NASA and ESA.

The ISS has an Amateur Radio station on board and the Astronauts are also licensed Radio Amateurs. The ISS signal can be received on the 2 metre Amateur band and could be heard live all over the UK when the contact was underway using amateur radios or scanners.

Radio Amateur and contact co-ordinator Lloyd Farrington from NADARS states: "This is a truly exciting event for both the school and NADARS. It's a great privilege to be able to speak to an orbiting Astronaut and we had NASA and ESA watching and listening to us due to it being the first contact of this kind in the World!"

The contact can be viewed here

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