TCS became the first Irish school to make radio contact with the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday last, 19 Oct, 2017. The day was the culmination of two years of preparation. On Thursday morning the excitement in the school was palpable. Having lost two days to Ophelia, the pressure was on to get everything set up on Wednesday so that the event could go ahead as planned on Thursday, when the contact was scheduled for 13:48. The window of opportunity only lasts for up to 12 minutes as the orbiting ISS passe over western Europe at the rate of 27,600 kilometres per hour. If the radio link fails within that timeframe – there is no second chance!
Led by Daniel Cussen, ARISS Radio Technical Co-ordinator, the team of volunteers from IRTS set up a temporary amateur radio station on the school grounds which included an antenna, and the two-way radio system to enable communication exchanges between TCS and the ISS. All through Wednesday, the team worked alongside the staff and students to ensure that everything was connected, and that everyone was ready.