B.C. radio operator contacts astronaut on the International Space Station

Amateur radio operators can get in touch with people all around the world, including up above. Sarah Chew speaks to a B.C. man who says he’s spoken with astronauts on the International Space Station not once, but twice.

Imagine an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) dropping in on your conversation. Well, that’s the case for one amateur radio operator in B.C. who says he’s made contact, not once, but twice with an astronaut up above.

Amateur radio operators can get in touch with people from all around the world and have been doing so for decades.

Bruce Patten, an amateur radio operator in Nanaimo, says he has talked to American astronaut Kjell Lindgren twice.

He says he gets on the airwaves from his home radio station setup, and says the astronaut dropped in on his radio conversation with a friend last year.

“So I called him back and said, you know, what’s your grid square? And he’s kind of like, ‘Uh… the space station…’I said, ‘well that’s awesome,’ and he said, ‘yeah it’s a great view.'”

Patten says he’s enjoying the technical challenges of satellite shooting, and since he’s already talked to an astronaut, his next goal is to contact all the satellite locations and grid squares in the U.S.

“When I get all 488 grid squares for the United States, I can actually apply for an award,” he explained.

Communicating around the world

Ian Procyk, the vice president of the Coquitlam Amateur Radio Club, says he’s also had some great conversations with people in remote locations.

“The coolest conversation I’ve ever had was with a research station in the South Pole. The McMurdo Station has an amateur installation there and quite frequently the physicists and different people that are down there doing research will, in their off-hours, hop on the air and make contact with us,” Procyk said.

He says the club has been around for 30 years and works with the Canadian Armed Forces to help get ready for emergencies and experimenting.

Although Procyk says they’ve never made contact with an alien, he says they’ve discovered some cool things in space.

“There’s actually a lot of people that are actually finding dormant satellites and things that are in far-flung orbit for NASA, JPL (NASA Jep Propulsion Laboratory) over the years,” he said.

Procyk says he hasn’t been able to contact an astronaut on the ISS, something that one astronomer at Vancouver’s H.R. MacMillan Space Centre says is very hard to do.

Marley Leacock says the ISS moves around the earth 16 times a day.

“You want to make sure it’s over where you are, and make sure the weather’s okay and your frequency isn’t being impacted. But you really have a small window. Like, I think the ISS is only over a specific region for maybe 10 minutes or so,” she explained.

For prospective radio users, you actually need an amateur radio operator certificate to contact the station.

But both Patten and Procyk say the process of getting one is worth it.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today