Going forward, the US arm of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station International working group will be known as ARISS-USA, an independent organization. ARISS serves as the intermediary to arrange contacts between schools and organizations on Earth and ISS crew members. ARISS-USA incorporated as a non-profit entity in Maryland in late May. The move will allow ARISS-USA to work independently, soliciting grants and donations. ARISS-USA will continue promoting amateur radio and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) goals within schools and educational organizations. ARISS-USA lead Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, noted that the scope and reach of what ARISS accomplishes has grown significantly since its modest start in 1996.
“Our working group status made it cumbersome to establish partnerships, sign agreements, and solicit grants,” Bauer said. “These can only be done as an established organization.” Bauer made it clear that ARISS-USA is “deeply indebted to our working group partners — ARRL and AMSAT, who enabled the birth of ARISS — and our steadfast sponsors, NASA Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN), and the ISS National Lab (INL).”
The move toward becoming an independent organization has been discussed for quite a while, ARISS-USA said in announcing the change.
“ARISS-USA will maintain its collaborative work with ARISS International as well as with US sponsors, partners, and interest groups,” the announcement said. “The main goal of ARISS-USA remains as connecting educational groups with opportunities to interact with astronauts aboard the [space station]. ARISS-USA will expand its human spaceflight opportunities with the space agencies beyond low-Earth orbit, starting with lunar opportunities including the Lunar Gateway. ARISS-USA will continue to review and accept proposals for ISS contacts and expand its other educational opportunities to increase interest in space sciences and radio communications.”
ARISS-USA said it’s in the process of applying for tax-exempt status as an IRS Section 501(c)(3) charitable, scientific, or educational organization. Approval will mean that donations made directly to ARISS-USA will be tax deductible for US taxpayers. In the meantime, ARISS-USA can accept tax-deductible contributions via AMSAT-NA through the ARISS website.
In its announcement, ARISS-USA acknowledged several individuals who were instrumental in its formation in 1996. The list included past ARRL President Vic Clark, W4KFC; past ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ; former AMSAT-NA presidents Bill Tynan, W3XO (SK), and Tom Clark, W3IO; Roy Neal, K6DUE (SK), whom ARISS-USA described as “a major guide for SAREX and ARISS;” NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL (SK), the first astronaut to use ham radio from space, and the late Pam Mountjoy of NASA Education, “who had the vision to develop the ARISS working group as a single amateur radio focus into the space agencies.”
ARISS-USA said it aims to continue earning high regard from all of its partners and sponsors.
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