New Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) packet equipment awaits unpacking and installation on board the station after arriving in November as part of the cargo transported via a Russian 71P Progress resupply vehicle. The new packet module for NA1SS will replace the current packet gear, which has been intermittent over the past year.
“With the arrival of Progress complete, the crew has to find free time unpack Progress, uninstall the intermittent module, and then set up and test the replacement packet module,” explained Dan Barstow, KA1ARD, senior education manager of the ISS National Laboratory (CASIS), an ARISS sponsor.
The ISS packet system was reported to have gone down in July 2017, although it unexpectedly came back to life the following summer. At the time of the failure, NASA ISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, said the revived system would fill the gap until the replacement packet module was launched and installed. The packet system operates on 145.825 MHz. ARISS hardware team members on the ground were able to locate a functional duplicate of the ISS packet module that has been in use on the ISS for 17 years. ARISS said the subsequent installation will depend on the crew’s busy schedule.
In an email to ARISS and other groups CASIS supports, Barstow pointed out that ARISS is an official back-up system for astronauts to talk with Mission Control in the unlikely failure of the station’s primary communication systems.
Bartow said that in 2017, hams relayed nearly 89,000 packet messages via the ISS — an average of 243 every day. The statistic so intrigued and amazed Barstow that he decided to get his Amateur Radio license and gear to join in the activity.
Satellite stalwart and ARISS supporter Patrick Stoddard, WD9EWK, won the December 2018 QST Cover Plaque Award for his article, “Making Digital Contacts through the ISS.”
Current International Space Station (ISS) crew members Serena Auñón-Chancellor, KG5TMT, Alexander Gerst, KF5ONO, and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev are scheduled to return to Earth on December 20 on a Soyuz vehicle.
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