Students text International Space Station using a 20-foot antenna

The project was done using a $10,000 grant.

By Thor Benson

IOWA CITY, Iowa, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Ross McCurdy is a sophomore at the University of Iowa who is in charge of a 20-foot rooftop antenna that he can use to text the International Space Station.

University of Iowa astronomy professor Phil Kaaret applied for a $10,000 grant to get the antenna, and part of the terms of getting the money was he had to pick an undergraduate student to run the project. Kaaret recognized McCurdy as a capable astronomy student and chose him for the role.


McCurdy worked on the project through the summer. When McCurdy couldn't directly contact the station, he decided to connect as early as 4 a.m., when the station would be closer to his location, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.

McCurdy's first message contained his coordinates and a sentence that read, "Hello from the University of Iowa." He was able to use the station's website to see if the message had gone through, because it tracks messages sent to the station, and he found out his message had made it.

Now, McCurdy is trying to communicate with a small satellite that was launched by the University of Colorado, Boulder called the CubeSat. He has not been successful so far, but he said the satellite is sometimes on sleep mode and doesn't send out a transmission that he can pick up.


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