Three new hams based at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) have been spending more than two-thirds of their workdays on the road highlighting Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) and other NASA-supported educational programs.

Aerospace education specialists for the NASA Aerospace Education Services Program (AESP) headquartered at JSC, the ham trio’s combined territory includes Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico and Colorado. Forty education specialists work out of NASA regional centers nationwide, serving kindergarten through college-level educators.

“NASA personnel are involved in amazing research and engineering programs truly unique to the agency,” said Ota Lutz, KD5UQZ , whose territory includes Kansas and Nebraska. “The opportunity to share a glimpse inside those programs with education audiences and observe the excitement it generates provides my greatest source of satisfaction.”

Lutz, Joan Sanders, KD5UQW , and Angelo Casaburri, KD5UQS –and Linus Guillory –travel to schools and museums as AESP representatives. Casaburri’s area is North and South Dakota, while Guillory’s is Colorado and Oklahoma.

AESP specializes in providing free professional development workshops for teachers of science, mathematics, geography and technology. Workshops introduce participants to hands-on activities and NASA curriculum support materials.

Lutz, Sanders and Casaburri studied for and passed their licensing exams in December, not only because they have a lot of respect for Amateur Radio but because they believe in the benefits of the ARISS program. “ARISS offers lots of opportunities, has a fairly simple application procedure and an in-place support network–local ham clubs–and is available to nearly anyone, regardless of geographic location,” Lutz said.

Fellow aerospace education specialist Sanders agreed. “Without exception, the men and women of the Astronaut Corps are heroes to school children,” said Sanders, who travels in Texas and New Mexico. “Amateur Radio makes contact possible with our astronauts on orbit for audiences around the world, and it provides a method of direct access that otherwise may be impossible.”

They’ve found that teachers respond very positively to the their presentations. As Lutz explained, “Our focus is on providing inquiry-based hands-on activities that are aligned with state educational standards and utilize inexpensive materials. NASA Enterprise topics are the driving theme, so our material is current and of high interest to students, teachers and the general public.”

NASA’s Aerospace Education Services Program began in 1961. Oklahoma State University, the current contract administrator, recently approved the three new hams for a portable ham station to take on the road. The aerospace education specialists want to give teachers an idea of how easy it is to operate a ham station, and they’re hoping local radio club members will partner with schools.

The NASA AESP Web site;


The OSU AESP Web site;