Field Day 2001 - ISS Contact

K H 6 H A K

Wide shot of the camp. Far left background is the family campground, picnic tables, and outdoor restaurant. The blue canopy is Dale (AH7D) setting up. Panning right is Petes Red & White mast with the 10-meter yagi, and Pete (KH6CTQ) setting up the MARS canopy. In the foreground is Hanks (KH6HAK) shelter with a 6-meter yagi and the Hawaii and ARRL flags flying.

Hanks flagpole and 6-meter yagi. (The band was not open this weekend.) Making solar power while the sun shines! This year, with the help of Joe (KH7PK) and Bill (KF6ORR) we added 120 watts of solar power.

Sunday morning coming down. Field day officially ended at 9 am Sunday. Here the crew brings down Petes 10 meter beam and mast.

Jim Yuen and Rob DeVega (KH7WU) assist Pete Demmer on the ladder while removing the 10 meter beam. Robs son, Josh, keeps the flag up.

Here is another shot of Pete, Rob, and Josh at work. Just minutes after this shot, Josh had the thrill of a lifetime as he got to talk to Susan Helms working NA1SS aboard the Space Station!

Our Space Station Contact-

Being the satellite space communications worker at field day, I had orbital information on several amateur satellites and the International Space station thanks to Ted, NH6YK. We tried several times to contact the space station as it passed over.

On Saturday morning I had to leave the campsite for a trip back into town for a few hours. I left the radios in charge of Todd, KH7UK, with stern instructions to watch the clock for the space station pass that morning. Todd unfortunately missed his time and got to the radios several minutes late. What he heard was a female voice in QSO with another station that he could not hear. Unable to break in, the QSO finished and the signal disappeared below the horizon before Todd could establish a contact. When I returned, Todd told me the disappointing news. I was encouraged that at least the crew was working the radios for field day, but crushingly disappointed that Todd had missed the chance to put the space station into our field day logs. I teased him without mercy for the rest of the day! (Sorry, Todd!)

Saturday evening we had an illuminated pass and everyone gathered to watch the bright moving star rising from the North. Unfortunately the crew was either busy or asleep when we tried to raise them.

Sunday morning we had one more space station pass available at 10am, just one hour after Field Day officially ended. We were all busy breaking down antennas and tents as above. Todd was determined to hang around and try to redeem himself. The station was going to rise only 15 degrees above the eastern horizon for about 8 minutes, but from our beach we had a clear horizon in that direction.

Hank: CQ the space station, here is KH6HAK

Susan: QRZ? NA1SS

Hank: NA1SS here is KH6HAK.

Susan: KH6... is it HK? Here is NA1SS

Hank: KH6HAK... with the Emergency Amateur Radio Club of Honolulu, just finishing up our Field Day activities here on the beach at Bellows Air Force Station.

Susan: Well I hope your field day was a good one. Do I have your call correct as KH6HAK?

Hank: That is correct, KH6HAK. Thank you very much for the contact, Susan. This is the thrill of a lifetime!

Susan: QRZ? NA1SS

I was dumbfounded! I had just contacted Susan Helms aboard the space station, and now it was over. Susan called QRZ yet again, and we realized that no one else in Hawaii was calling her. I handed the radio over to Todd and said, REDEEM YOURSELF!

Todd, KH7UK, made a fast QSO with Susan also, and handed the radio back with a pleased smile.

We still had some time, and no one else seemed to be uplinking from Hawaii. We had the space station all to ourselves. I handed the radio over to Rob DeVega, KH7WU. He established contact and told Susan he had a couple of kids that wanted to talk to her. You could almost hear the twinkle of delight in Susans voice as she encouraged him to put them on the radio. Robs daughter rather shyly said HI to Susan, and then it was son Joshs turn.

Josh: Hello?

Susan: And who am I talking to now?

Josh: This is Josh.

Susan: Well, Josh, you are talking to the Space Station! How does that make you feel?

Joshs eyes were wide with surprise. He hesitated a moment before exclaiming: This is.. SO COOL!!

At that point Rob got back on the radio and thanked Susan for the contact and closed the QSO.

Our time was up. The station set below the horizon, and we heard no more. This made the entire weekend worthwhile. And being able to share this thrill with some young children was even better. I will never forget the look, the excitement, on Joshs face as he talked to the space station. I am quite sure he will be a ham, just like his father.

104-E-5092 (16 July 2001) --- Susan J. Helms, Expedition Two flight engineer, talks to amateur radio operators on Earth from the HAM radio workstation in the Zarya module of the International Space Station (ISS).