March 4, 2007

 

ARSPEX WG

2006 ACTIVITY REPORT

 

  1. ARISS

Presently the main activity of the ARSPEX working group is related to ARISS, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station.

ARISS has developed a privileged relationship with the Space Agencies: NASA,ESA and Roscosmos/Energia.

Astronauts and cosmonauts most have an amateur radio licence use the amateur radio VHF station on board the Russian modules for contacts with ground stations worldwide.

The main activity is educational outreach, which is the most appreciated by the Space Agencies. ARISS international has developed an efficient system for organizing school contacts: students prepare questions and have the possibility to put their question to an astronaut onboard the ISS over amateur radio, and get his/her answer from space real time.

ARISS mentors work with local amateur radio clubs (mostly by e-mail and phone) to set up an efficient satellite type station in the schools selected for a contact. In Region 1, ARISS-Europe has mentors in UK, Belgium, France and Italy.

When a direct radio contact cannot be set up, the radio contact with the ISS is established by one of the ARISS dedicated ground stations and from there, the signals are relayed by phone to the school. This solution is called a telebridge. Verizon Conferencing, Inc offers the phone link which generally involves up to ten hams: the astronaut, the ground station operator, the operator in the school, the coordinator, a moderator and the hams in charge of broadcasting the audio of the space talk over EchoLink and IRLP.

In 2006, eight ARISS School Contacts were performed in Region 1:

-          2 in Germany

-          2 in Italy

-          1 in Kuwait

-          1 in Switzerland (on request of ESA)

-          1 in Belgium

-          1 in Sweden (on request of ESA)

Several school contacts are on the European waiting list and some will be performed in 2007.

ARISS international recently transformed a discarded Russian spacesuit into an amateur radio satellite (called a SuitSat) which was launched by hand from the ISS during an EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity). The onboard VHF transmitter broadcast recorded messages from students in five languages to the youth of the world. The signals were weak but the event was a media success worldwide.

ARISS presently prepares a second SuitSat with extended possibilities.

 

  1. Columbus

ARISS-Europe has received permission from ESA to install amateur radio antennas on the European space laboratory Columbus. This will be the first ever amateur radio station on European territory in Space.

The L/S-band antennas will be fixed on the nadir of Columbus before launch in October 2007.

The patch antennas are developed by the Technical University of Wroclaw, Poland.

Technical constraints are extremely severe, due to the intense vibrations the antennas will have to withstand during launch in a Shuttle bay.

ARISS-Europe has collected 50.000 for the construction of the antennas. The initially estimated cost was 80.000, but the real price will be higher. The University has received support for this project from the Polish Ministry for Science and Research, but 20.000 are still needed to finish the work. A contribution from the societies and/or the Region would be most welcome.

ESA also contributes to this project, supporting the installation cost (feedthroughs, coax cables, fixation on the module). The installation cost supported by ESA amounts to well over 100.000.

 

  1. Other activities

ARSPEX chairman calls the Region 1 societies to nominate a delegate to the working group.

Activities will be discussed and prepared mostly by e-mail and teleconference.

An ARSPEX page will be added to the IARU Region 1 website.

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted

 

Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARSPEX WG chairman a.i.