Astronaut issues challenge for UK students to “make that call”

Tim Peake KG5BVI, the first British ESA astronaut, has issued an invitation to UK school pupils to contact him via amateur radio whilst he is in space.

Tim will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in November of this year and will spend 6 months working and living on the ISS. Thanks to a collaboration between Amateur Radio on the International Space Stations (ARISS), the UK Space Agency, the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) and the European Space Agency (ESA), UK school pupils will be able to contact him whilst he is on board the ISS via a scheduled amateur radio link-up.

International Space Station - Image Credit NASA

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

The selected schools/organisations will host a direct link-up with the International Space Station during a two-day, space related STEM workshop. ARISS UK will provide and set up all necessary radio equipment (for example, low earth orbit satellite tracking antennas and radios) to establishing a fully functional, direct radio link with the International Space Station from their very own premises. In a ten-minute window when the ISS will be over the UK, an amateur radio contact will be established with Tim, and students will be able to ask him questions about his life and work on board the ISS.

During the contact with Tim the students will be able to hear and potentially see his response immediately. Tim will be using the amateur radio callsign GB1SS whilst he is talking to UK based schools.

Schools throughout the United Kingdom are being invited to host one of a limited number of these in-flight calls, which will include space workshops where students can explore space, space related technologies, the relevance of space to our digital lives and even analyse data being sent down from orbiting satellites.

The students taking part in the link-up will have to obtain their full amateur radio licence to be eligible to operate the radio and one lucky student at each of the selected schools will be responsible for making contact with the ISS.

An RSGB team and the ARISS UK Operations team will work with the chosen schools to prepare them for this exceptional opportunity during the mission of the first British ESA Astronaut.

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

Tim Peake said:

“I hope to share as much of my mission as possible and am delighted that I will be able to talk to UK students when the ISS flies over Britain, thanks to the radio amateur equipment on board the International Space Station and the ARISS programme.”

Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education at the UK Space Agency, added:

“Both Tim’s space mission and amateur radio have the power to inspire young people and encourage them into STEM subjects. By bringing them together we can boost their reach and give young people around the UK the chance to be involved in a space mission and a hands-on project that will teach them new skills.”

Ciaran Morgan, M0XTD, R.S.G.B. Lead for ARISS and ARISS Operations in the UK, said:

“Tim Peake, and his Principia mission to the ISS, offers students a unique insight to space and amateur radio. ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) is delighted to be able to help UK students connect with Tim whilst he is in space, using only amateur radio equipment on the ISS and in schools, to help inspire our future generations of scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians.”

John Gould, G3WKL, President of the RSGB said:

“The RSGB is delighted to be able to support the UK Space Agency and Tim’s journey into space, and looks forward to working with the selected schools.”

How to Apply

The opportunity to be involved in this exciting project opens 20 March 2015. Eligible institutions are invited to apply in order to register their interest.

Stage 1 application forms, available from the European Space Education Resource Office web site at must be returned no later than Friday 24 April 2015.

Schools/Institutions that are to be invited to proceed to Stage 2 will be notified in the week commencing 11 May 2015.

Stage 2 applications must be submitted and received by 26 June 2015.

There will then be a selection process involving the UK Space Agency, ESA, ARISS and the RSGB. The successful schools will be announced at the UK Space Conference on 14 July 2015.

UK National STEM Centre – Amateur Radio on the International Space Station

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has published an article explaining to schools and other organisations what amateur radio is and how it works. Read How to ‘Make That Call’: #TalkToTim on the ISS