Huntsville ham radio club celebrating Apollo anniversary at Space and Rocket Center

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Amateur radio operators are camping out at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center this weekend.

They're celebrating the moon landing milestone by hitting the airwaves.

The Huntsville Amateur Radio Club is spending the next two days sending and receiving signals from all over the country, even space.

These operators are standing by. With some assembly required, the group of radio operators are starting the chatter from their weekend base in Huntsville.

"This is the original social media, where you make contacts without wires," Huntsville Amateur Radio Club member Mark Brown said.

Members of the radio club are manning the airwaves, by Morse code and by satellite. Each time they hear back is called a contact. John Hilliard was in the right place at the right time five years ago.

"He said, 'Kilo 4 Charlie Juliet Hotel, we hear you in the International Space Station very loud,"Huntsville Amateur Radio Club member John Hilliard said.

A special card he got in the mail marks the day he got through to space.

"Who gets to speak to an astronaut on the space station?" Hilliard said.

This weekend promises to be a busy one on the airwaves, so operators can't afford to be long-winded.

"It's kind of like a cocktail party. You walk up to somebody, exchange pleasantries, then pass and go your separate ways," Brown said.

Huntsville's ham radio club goes back even further than the moon mission and is one of the largest chapters in the country, but they say they're always looking for new members.

Anyone who wants to see how it works is welcome to come out and meet members of the club on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. as they broadcast in the rocket park.

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