Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is hoping to refine its new “multipoint telebridge” system for handling scheduled ham radio contacts between International Space Station crew members and schools or organizations on Earth. On May 15 at 1510 UTC, it will conduct the second test of its new protocol in a contact with students in South Africa. The pandemic eliminated all conventional opportunities for ARISS radio contacts with educational organizations and institutions. The ARISS multipoint telebridge system works around the issue by employing distance learning within distance learning, as many schools around the world have gone over to conducting classes remotely via teleconferencing during the coronavirus pandemic, and students are physically separated.
Under the multipoint telebridge concept, one station in the path of a space station pass when a contact has been scheduled will serve as an Earth station, making direct, two-way amateur radio contact with NA1SS onboard the ISS. A telebridge network will deliver two-way audio from the Earth station to each of the contact participants. For the May 15 contact, the Earth station will be operated by John Sygo, ZS6JON, near Johannesburg.
Their students’ families, faculty members, and even members of the public will be able to listen in as each student at Airdrie Space Science Club in Alberta, Canada — a model rocket building club — takes a turn asking a question of astronaut Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR. One question on the list: “How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you while you are in space?” Brian Jackson, VE6JBJ, is a club leader.
“During this pandemic, our opportunities to develop kids’ interest in space have been interrupted,” Jackson said. “This ARISS contact gets them looking back up, towards the sky, and imagining themselves as an astronaut one day.”
Members of the public may view a livestream of the contact via YouTube.
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