ARISS – Press Release July 30 2015

Rhode Island’s first radio chat with an astronaut
All Saints STEAM Academy’s Int’l Space Station Radio Contact Gains Approval

All Saints STEAM Academy
Beth Cullen​


Middletown, RI

The first ground-to-space radio contact to ever take place in a Rhode Island school took another major step forward this week.

All Saints STEAM Academy (AS2A) was notified this week that its formal technical plan to host a question and answer session an astronaut aboard the International Space Station has successfully passed a detailed checklist and has earned the go-ahead. The school now moves into the NASA scheduling queue for a 2016 contact.

AS2A is working closely with Newport County Radio Club (NCRC) which has been supporting the local amateur radio community since 1947, and has provided the school with technical mentors. Club secretary Bob Beatty said, “It was natural for NCRC to partner with All Saints Academy since amateur radio depends on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).  This partnership is beneficial for both the young students who become better equipped for 21st Century technical careers, as well as the future of our hobby which relies on the creative minds of innovators.”

In May the Middletown school was chosen as one of  14 U.S. semi-finalists to host a radio contact with the International Space Station during the first half of 2016.   In their pre­-kindergarten through grade 8 grade school, AS2A incorporates the STEAM curriculum model. Students learn through hands-on activities that run the gamut from hydroponics to sewing e-fashions that are programmed to light-up and transmit information.

During the 2014-215 school year, five AS2A middle school students passed the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) amateur radio examination and earned their official callsigns. Mike Cullen, a  STEAM technical adviser managing the space station contact event, secured the callsign N1ASA for the school’s newly formed amateur radio club.

The voice contacts with the Space Station use amateur radio frequencies and last about 10 minutes — the average length of an orbital pass — and give students a chance to interact with the astronauts in a rapid fire, question ­and ­answer format. NASA promotes the program as a win-win, the space crews get a psychological boost  speaking with smart, inquisitive youngsters, and the students earn a lifelong memory and experience first hand the tangible benefit of pursuing STEM career paths.  Literally they see that reaching for the stars can result in amazing rewards!

Before and after the 2016 contact, All Saints’ students will be participating in many space­-themed activities, including a focus on managing space trash and social justice questions.

All Saints plans to stream the event’s audio and video. Interested schools, educators and members of the public are invited to fill in a Google online form to get involved and follow AS2A’s “out of this world” event.

Informational web links: