HAM IN SPAAAAAACE! ISS astronaut contacted by Gloucestershire bloke in garden shed

Sadly, wife hates hobby ‘with a passion’

Radio ham Adrian Lane was able to send his "73" (ham lingo for "best regards") to an American astronaut as the International Space Station passed over Gloucestershire.

The amateur operator told The Telegraph of his communication with the International Space Station from his garden shed in the small market town of Coleford.

Lane will have spoken to either Scott Kelly [PDF], or Kjell Lindgren [PDF], who are the only Americans currently aboard the ISS as part of Expedition 44.

Lane, 52, reportedly spent weeks preparing to contact the ISS after he was informed that the station would be passing over his home. The former lorry driver plotted the approximate path of the ISS using Michael Lodge-Paolini's ISSTracker.

He established a four-minute window during which the station would be contactable as it orbited the planet at 18,500mph, or 0.2759 per cent of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum.

Lane waited to broadcast his call-sign as the space farmers passed 200 miles overhead. Then, "to his astonishment, an American astronaut answered back to 'welcome him aboard'".

The pair managed to communicate for roughly 50 seconds before losing contact.

Father-of-two Lane told The Telegraph that "it was a mundane conversation" which still "blew his mind", despite Lane asking what it was like in space and receiving the laconic reply: "Very dark."

"I said to them how wonderful Earth must look from up there. They said 'Oh Adrian, it's amazing, you can't imagine what it looks like from up here'," Lane gushed.

"He said it was very dark, but when you look down at Earth it is full of colour. I basically asked who he was and how things were in space that day. It was such a rush. I was buzzing. It's not every day you get to talk to some guy out in space," said Lane.

Expedition 44 [PDF] will feature the first humans to harvest and eat crops grown off-world, which NASA describes as "another necessary advance for astronauts travelling on deep space missions".

Astronauts will be allowed to eat half of the second crop of lettuce in the Veggie investigation, freezing the other half for a return to Earth, where scientists will analyse the plants and compare them to a control set grown at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

During downtime on weekends, ISS crew members have been known to make unscheduled amateur radio contacts with us Earth-dwelling apes, as we dribble our meager terrestrial comestibles down our fronts.

The Telegraph reports that Lane "spends most of his time using permitted frequencies to talk to fellow enthusiasts around the world", much to the chagrin of his wife, Deilwen.

"She hates it with a passion," he said. "We've had so many rows over it. Even the kids know where to find me. Where's Dad? Oh, he's in the shed again."

Ten British schools have been shortlisted to make contact with Her Majesty's astronaut Tim Peake, again using amateur radio, after he boards the station on 15 December for Expeditions 46 and 47. ®

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