Follow these links for details on two ISS contacts (or scroll below):

May 22, 2013 (Anacapa School)
August 19, 2008 (los Padres Council Troop 105)

Equipment used



Video of the contact (from Anacapa School)

Media coverage of the contact

Anacapa School ISS contact web page


The Background (excerpted in part from Anacapa School site)

On May 22, 2013, Anacapa School students had a chance to speak with NASA Astronaut and former Navy SEAL Christopher J. Cassidy via a live Amateur Radio link to the International Space Station (ISS). The 10-minute Q&A session went off without a hitch at the hilltop campus of QAD, Inc.

Video of the event was streamed live online on the school’s Web site. The arrangement was made possible by Anacapa School’s participation in the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Teaching From Space program, a cooperative venture between NASA, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) and other international space agencies that coordinates scheduled radio contacts between astronauts aboard the ISS and schools. Support locally was provided by Amateur Radio operators Ken Owen and Calli Marquez from the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club.

As part of the preparations for this event, students in the Anacapa Near Space Exploration Club (ANSEC) passed the Federal Communication Commission’s Amateur Radio license exam.  Each year, Anacapa students participate in the school’s Synthesis Unit, Anacapa’s premier tool for developing critical thinking skills. Each Unit provides students with unique opportunities to explore a specific topic in depth with expert speakers, field trips and hands-on experiences. In 2013 the Synthesis Unit topic is “Space: Where Are We Going?”  

ARISS and Teaching From Space, a NASA education office, support participating schools in instilling interest in science, technology, engineering and math subjects and careers among students. The ARISS radio contact is one in a series of educational activities in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Teaching From Space promotes a variety of learning opportunities and builds partnerships with the education community using the unique environment of human spaceflight.

Astronaut Chris Cassidy


ISS Contact team:


Communications Team

Ken Owen N6KTH
Calli Marquez KD6OVS

Anacapa School ARISS Lead

Levi C. Maaia K6LCM





Follow the links below to DOWNLOAD video of the space station contact.  You may experience best results by saving the file to your hard drive and then playing it.

Video of the Event
Photos of the event
Media Coverage


The Background
On August 19, the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club (SBARC) made it possible for a local Boy Scout troop (Los Padres Council Troop 105) to contact the International  Space Station live via ham radio!  The event began at 8:39 AM local time and lasted about 10 minutes.  The contact was made at the request of Dr. Gregory Errol Chamitoff Ph.D. (KD5PKZ) an astronaut currently stationed on the ISS.  Dr. Chamitoff is an alum of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is friends with assistant scout master John Schlesselmann.  Several folks, including local hams and staff of the UC Santa Barbara physics department organized the event (see below).

The scouts submitted question advance, and most of them had the opportunity to ask the questions of the astronaut.  Transmission quality with perfect, and the contact took place in a prominent location on campus (the patio on the roof of Broida Hall). Members of SBARC also worked with the kids to achieve scout "radio merit badges" after the event.  More than 100 people attended the event.

This was also a big media event, and it was a great opportunity to set up the SBARC communications van and spend the day promoting the club and amateur radio. Three television stations covered the event, as did several print and radio reporters.  The contact was also streamed live on the internet, and was seen worldwide.



UCSB/SBARC ISS Contact team:


Communications Team

Ken Owen N6KTH
Calli Marquez KD6OVS
Dave Jacobs K9KBX
Rod Fritz WB9KMO
Michael Barber KC6UEZ
Josh Massie NF6S


UC Santa Barbara
Physics Department:

Glenn Schiferl  
Robert Pizzi* AC6PZ
Cyril Johnson* AF6GW
* Also SBARC member



There were two, two-meter FM ham stations capable of space communications (see the block diagram below) used for this event. The primary station had full tracking capability (azimuth & elevation rotors, tracking software and interface) a circularly polarized beam, pre-amps and a power amplifier. The backup station only needed to have an omni-directional antenna, but it also had a pre-amp and power amp.


We used two Yaesu ft-847s radios, a Gulf Alpha 2 Meter 5x5 circular polarized yagi, controlled by a Yaesu G-5500 elevation/azimuth rotor, a Dell laptop computer running SatPC32 tracking software.



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