On February 6, 2008, I had the great honor of making radio contact with Astronaut Daniel Tani, as he flew overhead aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This was one of the most exciting and awesomely cool things I've ever gotten to do. It was my first voice ham radio contact ever, and after a great deal of help from the tireless Kenneth Ransom, Dan and I finally managed to schedule a time to chat.
Today I received permission to post publicly a photo, taken by Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, of Dan while he was talking to me:
Almost as cool was the email I got from space when I was first trying to schedule the contact with Dan. It was a bit of a challenge, because you need line-of-sight in order to establish radio communications at the frequencies we were using (144 MHz, also known as 2 meter). This means that the contact has to occur during a pass. Since ISS orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, and the Earth itself rotates during that time, it's only overhead during certain times of the day, and those times are different every day.
Add to that the fact that Dan is an incredibly busy person up there, so we had to find a time when he was both off duty and ISS was in sight. Around 1600 PST on February 6th that finally happened (I think Dan stayed up late to make it happen, and for that I thank him). We were able to chat for about 9 minutes, and it was great fun.
Thanks again to Kenneth Ransom, Yuri Malenchenko, and Mike Kobb (who assisted on the ground as my antenna tracker).
I had the privilege to go to Florida to see Dan's first shuttle mission launch (STS-108). I lack the words to express my extreme appreciation of Dan, for making that possible, and for taking the time to do this with me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Dan!