April 20: West Michigan Aviation Academy (WMAA), a Grand Rapids no-tuition high school, hosted an ARISS contact. It took place in the gym, full of 200 students and faculty, listening to Sultan Al Neyadi answer 15 student questions.  Before and after the contact, students came to a podium to present talks on research they’d done on space.  Both the school and the ARISS team livestreamed the event (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIXqiqqK5KU), resulting in 500 viewers.  A ham in Atlanta, GA, created a YouTube of Al Neyadi’s transmission and garnered 83 views. The media came: WKTV, WOOD TV, WXMI TV, and a web news service. During a WKTV interview (https://www.wktvjournal.org/aviation-academy-students-connect-with-international-space-station-astronaut), sophomore Keira Amis expressed excitement, “It was kind of scary in front of all these people, but it was incredibly worth it!” Science teacher Bryan Forney explained, “Every academic department found a way to tie [space] in curriculum … teachers were writing content and presenting lessons related to space. It’s great for students to hear and understand more about what it takes to put something into space, get people to space, what’s required of astronauts, and it helps put that career path in the realm of the possible for our students.” The area ham radio group assisted with radio communication studies and they transported and set up the ham radio station equipment for the contact.

April 21: Montross Middle School, a rural school in Montross, VA with limited resources and opportunities, was thrilled to host an ARISS radio contact for students with Steve Bowen. It was obvious the 12 students chosen to speak had rehearsed well when they asked their 23 questions. The pre-contact programming featured presentations from Principal Leah Segar and Westmoreland County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Perry.  The school district website offered a livestream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFFmf9e0pZs), as did the school’s YouTube channel.  Over 1,000 students and 107 educators, administrators, and parents viewed the livestream. 5 days following the event, the school’s YouTube report showed 480 views. A copy posted at the ARISS YouTube channel reported 400 more views.  The Westmoreland News ran a nice story about the contact. For almost a year, students engaged in a STEM curriculum focusing on space-based subjects. The Westmoreland Amateur Radio Club mentored students in enjoying getting on the air to make ham radio contacts, learning about ham radio emergency communications practices, and how ham radio would be used to make their ARISS contact.

April 18-20: ARISS-International Chair Frank Bauer led the 2023 ARISS-International Annual Meeting, the first held in person since the start of COVID.  The meeting, held at the European Space Agency’s ESTEC facility in Noordwijk, Netherlands welcomed several ESA Education and ISS program leaders. 20 of the ARISS group traveled from around the globe to attend—delegates, board, and team members—with 9 joining virtually. ARISS Delegates came from three ARISS Regions; other Delegates were online. Meeting sessions covered crew training, crew support, Axiom private astronaut support, a review of the past year’s successes, and strategic discussions on implementing the ARISS 2.0 initiative, which encompasses ARISS as a NASA Implementation Partner, the three ARISS education programs in development (STEREO, STAR, and Student Mission Control) and the planned expansion to include commercial space stations and missions to the moon. Other topics included planning/coordination for the upcoming 40th anniversary of amateur radio on human spaceflight missions, ARISS Ham Video launch and operations readiness status, plans to restart ARISS slow scan (picture downlink) sessions, and new engineering projects, i.e., an ARISS Digital Communicator based on software defined radio technology that could support ISS and Lunar missions.   

April 21:  Schoolchildren at Rostov on Don, Russia engaged in the About Gagarin From Space lessons with the ANO FIRON group (Foundation for Innovative Development of Education and Science).  As with other ARISS-Russian sponsored ARISS contacts, this one was scheduled by Russia’s Mission Control Center-Moscow.  50 people were present for the contact where 9 young participants spoke with Andrey Fedyaev. 

April 22: Students in Portugal from a group of five João de Barros schools (AEJB) in Corroios and also the Escola Secundária da Baixa da Banheira (a vocational training school–VET) in Moita shared an ARISS contact with Steve Bowen. He answered 20 of the students’ questions.  200 people attended the contact as did a web news outlet. While waiting in the Moita school auditorium for the scheduled contact time, students listened to talks presented by the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences on black holes, characteristics of the ISS, and how astronauts live in space. AEJB offers a curriculum in, among other things, science and technology, socioeconomic sciences, visual arts, and computer technologies. Some of the Moita VET school curriculum includes IT, logistics, and pharmacy technician courses. The Amateur Radio Association in Portugal helped support the schools for this contact.

April 21: The Stone Magnet Middle School in Melbourne, FL invited Charlie Sufana to an awards ceremony; he had been their ARISS Technical Mentor for their recent ARISS contact.  30 people attended the celebration honoring volunteers who had done something special for the school this semester.  He networked with community members, answering questions about ARISS.

ARISS Upcoming Events
May 1: Council Rock High School South, Holland, PA – ARISS Contact, ARISS-US Team