Ham radio or amateur radio has a tradition of sending verification of communications as cards, letters or certificates. The term for this is QSL and comes from a set of codes called “Q” codes which date back to the beginning of two way radiotelegraph communications. You can discover more about the Q codes at Wikipedia. QSL literally means “Can you acknowledge receipt?” if sending and “I am acknowledging receipt” if what was sent was understood by the receiving party. So the card, letter or certificate is basically an acknowledgment of a receipt of transmission or communication.
Early in 1998, when I lived in Claremore, I got interested in some of the stuff that was going on in space from another ham radio friend I knew named Harry. Harry’s a firefighter and in his off times, was always doing cool new things. One of those “cool new things” was talking to the Mir spacecraft with his 2 meter handheld radio. I thought that was really pretty cool, so I started getting involved. I finally got a reception of the Mir on packet radio which is a digital mode for ham radio so I logged it and sent it in. With that, I started listening and talking to the International Space Station and the space shuttles when they were operating.
As a member of the SETI League I discovered a program they had called Extra-Terrestrial QSL Cards. Since I was already communicating with space stuff, I decided to go ahead and apply for my QSL cards to get the SETI League’s operating award ETCC. It was really fun and I’m glad I did it as I have QSLs from the now defunct MIR space station that is laying at the bottom of the ocean, and Columbia which burned up reentering earth’s atmosphere from space with all seven crew members aboard. (God rest their souls.)
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