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Skywatch 16: NASA, HAM radio, and the moon

Newswatch 16's John Hickey has the lunar news from an astronaut and HAM radio operator in this week's Skywatch 16.

SCRANTON, Pa. — An astronaut from NASA with a unique connection to northeastern Pennsylvania was in Scranton last week as part of NASA's efforts to ramp up preparations for the next manned missions to the moon planned for the summer of 2025.

In 2010, Col. Douglas Wheelock was the commander aboard the International Space Station. Shortly before going into space, he got his HAM radio license.

"HAM radio is a lifesaver on board the station."

Ham radio communications from the International Space Station are typically reserved for emergency situations when other forms of communication with earth are unavailable. Col. Wheelock had another idea.

"You begin to miss your home planet when you're up there, and I had six months to go. So I thought I should pick up the HAM radio and see if anyone's out there," Col. Wheelock said.

"Always great fun to bump into somebody. 'Hey, I talked to you when you were on the station.' I say, 'What's the call sign?'  I remember because I wrote everything down."

Last week, the University of Scranton student HAM radio club and the Murgas Amateur Radio Club hosted Col. Wheelock. He has a new mission now.

"We're on a recruiting trip. We're looking for people to help us get back to the moon."

NASA's Artemis mission is to get man back on the moon in the summer of 2025, and they are looking for help to get there.

"I'm just fascinated with the idea of exploration and what's out there and pushing human boundaries to learn more. Ever since I was a little girl, like fourth grade when I was learning about what space is, I've been fascinated in learning more about it," said Veronica Romanek, a junior at the University of Scranton.

"We're looking for those not only interested in being astronauts but building rockets, building flying craft, that can land on other planetary bodies, including the moon," Col. Wheelock added. "Space is still a frontier ripe for exploring, and that's what we're all about at NASA."

See past Skywatch 16 segments on YouTube: