Here’s how to listen to Tallaght schoolchildren chat live with ISS astronaut

19 Oct 2017

The International Space Station. Image: 3Dsculptor/Shutterstock

Tallaght Community School will be the first Irish school ever to make direct radio contact with the ISS. Here’s how to listen in live.

When they have a few minutes in between conducting breakthrough scientific research, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) get a chance to do some outreach work and speak with eager students back here on Earth.

This time around, it’s the students at Tallaght Community School in Dublin who, at 1.48pm IST today (19 October), will be the first group of Irish students to make direct radio contact with the station, and astronaut Paolo Nespoli and the rest of his crew.

For a brief timeframe, the ISS will be travelling at 27,600kph and, for between six and 12 minutes, it will be passing over the school.

In order to carry out this real-time Earth-to-space radio contact – which uses amateur radio equipment to beam a line-of-sight signal to the ISS – the schools will set up a temporary amateur radio station on the grounds, which will include an antenna and a two-way radio system.

A great achievement for Tallaght Community School

To get the opportunity to speak to the astronauts directly is no easy feat, with the school taking part in an open competition organised by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station programme.

The highly competitive programme receives thousands of applications from schools across the globe and, every six months, the application process opens for schools to be chosen as one of the select few to make space contact six or 12 months later.

What makes this achievement even more impressive is that typically, schools in the countries that have astronauts on board the ISS get preference, so an Irish school being chosen is extremely uncommon.

Tog, the Dublin-based hackerspace, is providing the live stream of the students’ chat with Nespoli and the rest of the ISS crew, which you can watch below.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic