International Amateur Radio Union - Region 1


Gaston Bertels, ON4WF - ARSPEX WG Chairman

Avenue Paul Hymans 117/29  -  B-1200 Brussels - Belgium

Tel  : +32.2.771.67.74     E-Mail :





January 22, 2010



  1. ARISS School Contacts

Since end 2000, 575 School Contacts were programmed and successfully performed by ARISS international. In 2009, 121 successfull ARISS School Contacts were done worldwide, among which: 


-          21 in Belgium

-          7 in Italy

-          3 in France

-          2 in Portugal

-          1 in UK

-          1 in Germany,

-          1 in Poland

-          1 in Sweden

-          1 in Switzerland

-          1 in Finland

-          1 in Greece

-          1 in Mali

-          1 in Senegal


In 2009, the permanent ISS crew grew from 3 to 6 members. For the first time, an ESA astronaut  served as ISS Commander: the Belgian Frank De Winne, ON1DWN. .



2.   QB50 project

The QB50 project is being developed by von Karman Institute for fluid dynamics in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the USA National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

QB50 is an international network of 50 CubeSats for multi-point, in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere and re-entry research.

Scientific objectives:

·         to study in situ the temporal and spatial variations of a number of key parameters in the lower thermosphere at 90-300 km altitude with a network of about 50 CubeSats, separated by a few hundred kilometres and carrying identical sensors

·         to study the re-entry process by measuring a number of key parameters during re-entry and by comparing predicted and actual CubeSat trajectories and orbital lifetimes.

A CubeSat is simply too small to also carry sensors for significant scientific research. Hence, for the universities the main objective of developing, launching and operating a CubeSat is educational. However, when combining a large number of CubeSats with identical sensors into a network, in addition to the educational value, fundamental scientific questions can be addressed which are inaccessible otherwise. Networks of CubeSats have been under discussion in the CubeSat community for several years, but so far no university, institution or space agency has taken the initiative to set up and coordinate such a powerful network.

For the QB50 network, double CubeSats (10x10x20 cm) are foreseen, with one half providing the usual satellite functions and the other half accommodating a set of identical sensors for lower thermosphere and re-entry research. All 50 CubeSats will be launched together on a single launch vehicle (a Russian Shtil-2.1 or Shtil-2R) into a circular orbit at about 300 km altitude, inclination 79º. The payload mass is about 200 kg (100 kg for the CubeSats, 80 kg for the CubeSat deployment system, 20 kg margin). Due to atmospheric drag, the orbits of the CubeSats will decay and progressively lower and lower layers of the thermosphere will be explored, perhaps down to 90 km. The initial orbital altitude will be selected so that the mission lifetime of the individual CubeSats will be about three months. 34 CubeSats are envisaged to be provided by European universities in 19 countries, 11 by universities in the US, 2 by universities in Canada and 3 by Japanese universities. The hardware cost of a CubeSat is in the range 100 - 200 k€.

By the time QB50 CubeSats will be launched, GENSO will be fully operational. It will comprise more than 100 amateur radio ground stations in different parts of the world, providing nearly continuous uplink and downlink capability for all QB50 CubeSats. The amateur radio contribution to the GENSO project is being developed by an AMSAT UK working group under Graham Shirville G3VZV's leadership.


3.   European Parliament Brussels Exhibition

IARU Region 1 EUROCOM working group is preparing an exhibition in the European Parliament, Brussels, April 26-30.

Space being one of the thematics, ARISS will try and set up a radio contact on the exhibition ground with an American astronaut onboard the ISS. Students from the European School, Brussels will prepare questions and will ask them during the Space Talk.

The European Space Agency will participate to the exhibition and provide material.

Among the exhibits there will be a working model of the OUFTI-1 D-STAR cubesat, developed by the Université de Liège.


4.   ESA plans installation of ham radio equipment on Columbus

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA will be ISS crew member for 6 months, starting December 2010.

Paolo Nespoli is willing to work on installing ARISS equipment on Columbus and ESA is supporting this opportunity.


5.   ARISS international meeting

ARSPEX WG chairman participated to the ARISS international meeting which took place at ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands, June 2009.

The main topic on the agenda was SuitSat-2, a discarded Russian ORLAN Space Suit to be equipped with ham gear and hand launched from the ISS during an EVA (Space walk). Later in the year the Russian disposed of the spacesuit by lack of space onboard. Consequently, the project was changed, and an adequate frame was developed for hand launch from the ISS, tentatively in October 2010. The satellite has been renamed ARISSat-1.

ARSPEX WG chairman was elected ARISS chairman.



Respectfully submitted


Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARSPEX WG chairman