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Puerto Rico: Overcoming Terrestrial Problems To Talk To People In Space

By Keith Cowing
January 5, 2018
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Puerto Rico: Overcoming Terrestrial Problems To Talk To People In Space

Puerto Rico Students to Speak with NASA Astronaut on Space Station, NASA
“Several hundred students from 30 schools across Puerto Rico will speak with a NASA astronaut living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station at 11:15 a.m. EST Friday, Jan. 12. The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website Students will travel to Manatí, Puerto Rico, for the call to Expedition 54 astronaut Joe Acaba aboard the space station, and will have an opportunity to ask questions about life aboard the space station, NASA’s deep space exploration plans, and doing science in space.”
Keith’s note: Its nice that students in devastated Puerto Rico will get a chance to talk to the ISS crew. Its certainly a nice distraction from months of arduous living. But there is a reason why “several hundred students … will travel to Manatí, Puerto Rico … More than 500 attendees are expected”. As of last week half of Puerto Rico’s residents are still without power 3 months after Hurricane Maria. So, instead of doing what most students do when they talk to the ISS i.e. log into an Internet connection – they have to get into buses and drive back and forth across the island to go to a location where there is enough electricity to power the uplink.
Oddly, back in 2009 I did an downlink/uplink session to the ISS from Everest Base Camp using a portable BGAN INMARSAT link that fits into a backpack. I charged its battery with solar panels. One would think that NASA might try using some of that advanced satellite technology they like to brag about to do this uplink and not make hundreds of students drive for hours to crisscross the island for a 20 minute event. And the gasoline that the buses are using could have been used to run generators to power satellite links back home using consumer satellite communication systems – and people’s homes.
Its nice that NASA is thinking of the Americans who live on Puerto Rico. Perhaps other government agencies should be working a little harder to make life normal again for our fellow citizens such that NASA does not have to go to such extremes for events such as this.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.