Astronaut answers 30 questions in 10 minutes

International Space Station Expedition 6 Crew Commander Ken Bowersox, KD5JBP, deftly managed 30 questions put to him this week during a 10-minute Amateur Radio contact with 15 New Jersey students. The number of questions answered could be a record for a school group contact.

The April 14 QSO with youngsters at Lounsberry Hollow Middle School

in Vernon was arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. Bowersox–who’s known as “Sox” within NASA’s Astronaut Corps–answered the obviously well-rehearsed students’ questions as quickly as they asked them.

Questions ranged from the usual, “What is your favorite space food?” to the more arcane, “What did you learn from your favorite experiment?” Another asked, “Do you have a telescope or binoculars on the ISS?” while a third asked how carbon dioxide was removed from the air inside the ISS.

Control operator John Santillo, N2HMM, reports that teachers at the northwestern New Jersey school were ecstatic about the smooth and speedy banter between Bowersox and the students. Reporters from a New York City TV station (WNBC-TV, channel 4), a local cable channel and two newspapers covered the event.

ARISS is an international project, with US participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.

In related news, a Russian Soyuz vehicle will transport a new two-person crew–Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, and Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, to the International Space Station April 25. Bowersox and his Expedition 6 crewmates, Don Pettit, KD5MDT, and Nikolai Budarin, RV3FB, are scheduled to leave the ISS aboard the Soyuz transporter in early May.

NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe told a congressional panel this week that the nation’s shuttle fleet could return to flight before the end of the year. The space agency head thinks the independent investigation board looking into the shuttle Columbia disaster is just weeks away from recommending hardware and procedural improvements necessary to make the remaining three space shuttles safe to fly.–Gene Chapline, K5YFL/ARISS; AMSAT News Service; NASA