Spring 2006 Issue

First “Back to Back”
ARISS Contacts

Students at the Dale High School in Dale, OK, and at the DeGolyer Elementary School in Dallas, TX, made the first scheduled contacts on
successive orbits with Bill McArthur, KC5ACR, during Expedition 12 to the International Space Station. Here is the story.

By Keith Pugh, W5IU


On 7 February 2006 at 1456 UTC, students at Dale High School in Dale, OK, made a successful contact with Bill McArthur on board the ISS. One orbit later, at 1632 UTC, DeGolyer Elementary School in Dallas, TX, also made a successful contact with the ISS. These two schools are approximately 172 miles apart with Dale almost due north of Dallas. Thus, students in both schools were able to hear all of their own contact and most of the other school’s contact as well. Much to the dismay of the “Texans,” the “Oakies” are now claiming that “Oklahoma is Number One,” since the Dale contact was first.

The Schools

Dale High School, Dale, OK. Several years ago, while driving home from a radio club meeting, Justin Cochrane asked his grandfather, Ron Cochrane, KD5GEZ, if students at his school could talk to the astronauts as had the students described in the evening’s program. Ron replied that they could try. At the time, Justin was still in elementary school, so an application was made to ARISS for the J. D. Jackson Elementary School in Dale, OK, a small rural community about 30 miles east of Oklahoma City, OK.

Between the time of the application and the time of the scheduled contact, Justin moved on to Dale High School. All of the students who directly participated in the contact were Justin’s classmates and had moved along with him. Since all of the Dale, OK, schools are located on a common campus, the contact actually became a project of the Dale Public Schools, and 500 of the 700-plus students were able to attend the contact conducted in the gymnasium. Gary Burkhart, a Dale science teacher, coordinated the students’ questions and arrangements within the school. Ron Cochrane, a Dale High School graduate, was the radio contact coordinator, and he prepared the crowd by giving an excellent presentation on amateur radio and the space program. Justin and his father were members of the team, along with Ron and yours truly, that installed the antennas and the rest of the station equipment for the contact on the high school roof and in the gymnasium.


The first “back to back” ARISS QSOs took place on the morning of 7 February 2006. The first of the two QSOs was with the Dale, OK, public schools. Shown here are the Dale High School ninth grade scrince students with teacgher Gary Burkhart (left).  (Photo courtesy of Coy Day, N5OK)

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