Thornton Middle School students contact the International Space Station

Thornton Middle School ISS Contact

One of the Thornton Middle School students

On March 25, using the Thornton Middle School Wireless Technology Club callsign KF5NZD, students from Thornton Middle School in Katy, Texas contacted the International Space Station (ISS). They used ham radio to speak to ISS Commander Chris Hadfield VA3OOG who was operating one of the amateur radio stations onboard the ISS, callsign NA1SS.

“NA1SS..NA1SS this is KF5NZD, KF5NZD, How do you copy, over?” called 13-year-old Chris Bobicchio.

The Cypress Creek Mirror reports a long sticky pause filled the room followed by a clear “This is NA1SS to KF5NZD, you are loud and clear, how do you copy me, over?”

Thornton math teacher and ham radio enthusiast Tom Maxwell AE5QB had been trying to get his school involved in the ARISS program for the past three years and was finally accepted last summer.

AMSAT News Service reports Thornton Middle School students, due to their economic backgrounds, have limited opportunities for enrichment activities beyond those that can be implemented in the classroom. Many of its students and families believe that opportunities in high paying STEM careers are beyond the reach of Thornton students, and that, “other kids have all the luck.” This ARISS contact helped dispel these perceptions and will demonstrate to the students and families that Thornton students are capable of complex problem solving, and that they are capable of learning “Rocket Science” material.

Read the Cypress Creek Mirror story by Crystal Simmons at

To see a video of the complete question and answer session, visit

A list of the questions asked is at

Thornton Middle School Wireless Technology Club on Facebook

Thornton Middle School

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)