The ARRL report representatives of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International partners met in person last month for the first time in 2-1/2 years to reassess the program’s direction and to consider new objectives.
The European Space Agency (ESA) hosted the April 3-5 gathering at its European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in The Netherlands. ARISS International Secretary-Treasurer Rosalie White, K1STO, represented the ARRL at the sessions. ARISS International Chair and AMSAT-NA Vice President for Human Spaceflight Programs Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, presided.
Former ESA astronaut Gerhard Thiele, DG1KIL, welcomed the representatives. Thiele, who heads ESA’s Human Spaceflight and Operations Strategic Planning and Outreach office, told the gathering that ESA recognizes the benefit to students of being able to communicate with the ISS crew directly via Amateur Radio, and that students learn a lot as a result of these ARISS contacts.
In a wide-ranging presentation, ARISS International Project Selection & Use Committee representative Lou McFadin, W5DID, addressed long-term equipment possibilities. Among other requirements, McFadin said, ARISS should have the ability to control its equipment from Earth, and he said that developing software-defined equipment would permit this. He also spoke of the need for an “override power switch,” as the astronauts need to shut down ARISS equipment during safety-critical events such as spacecraft dockings or spacewalks. Given the paucity of space aboard the ISS, ARISS also must minimize the amount of real estate its equipment occupies, McFadin said. He also noted that there is “little or no” ISS crew time to address ISS ham gear issues.
McFadin further discussed the advantages of installing a mobile VHF/UHF transceiver in the Columbus module that has higher power capabilities, similar to the Kenwood D-700 located in the Service Module. In recent months crew members have been using a 5 W Ericsson hand-held transceiver for school contacts, and signal levels have been lower than the team would prefer. McFadin suggested that a portable mobile system with a power output of 15 W or greater might improve this situation.
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ARISS ESTEC meeting minutes and committee reports http://www.ariss.org/meeting-minutes.html