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 10, 2011



  1. ARISS School Contacts

In 2010, 12 successfull ARISS School Contacts were performed in Region 1: 

-          7 in Italy

-          1 in Greece

-          1 in Poland

-          1 in Belgium

-          1 in Norway

-          1 in Switzerland

For almost all of 2010, no European astronauts were onboard the International Space Station. In the first six months of 2011, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA is member of the crew. Several educational ARISS contacts are planned with Italian schools.

Shortly after his arrival, aboard the ISS on December 17th, 2010 Paolo Nespoli sent a photo from the ISS to the amateur radio community, wishing ARISS a Happy Birth Day. Indeed, on 21 December 2000, astronaut William Shepherd turned from his usual activities aboard the newly occupied International Space Station. Floating over to a “ham” radio attached to a station bulkhead, he called the Burbank School in Burbank, Illinois and was soon talking with 14 enthusiastic students.

Over these 10 years, 565 successful contacts have been undertaken in 40 countries in 5 continents, allowing thousands of students to share the excitement of those first 14. Moreover, tens of thousands of students, faculty, and parents have participated by planning and attending these events.

Teachers, parents and communities see, first hand, how Amateur Radio and crewmembers on ISS can energize youngsters' interest in science, technology and learning.


  1. European Parliament Brussels Exhibition

Tuesday 27 April 2010, 12 students of the European School, Brussels were invited to visit the Exhibition set up by the International Amateur Radio Union in collaboration with the European Space Agency in the European Parliament, Brussels and sponsored by MEP Birgit Sippel from Germany. The Exhibition's name was "European Amateur Radio Benefiting Society" and the thematics were Emergency, Education and Space.

The students, aged 14-18, accompanied by two science teachers, were welcomed by ARISS Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF who introduced the event with a general presentation on the orbital and technical aspects of VHF communications between amateur radio ground stations and the ISS. The students asked many interesting questions while they observed the projection of the world map showing the ISS progressing towards Buenos Aires, Argentina.

An ARISS contact was planned at 12.57 UTC. The radio contact was a telebridge, operated by Adrian Sinclair's ARISS ground station LU1CGB. When Adrian started calling NA1SS, the audience kept their breath. US astronaut Timothy Creamer, KC5WKI answered immediately and the exchange of questions and answers began. All questions were answered and greetings and thanks exchanged.  

In the European School, located in the outskirts of Brussels, an audience of students and teachers followed the space talk by listening in to the teleconference.

In the European Parliament, several MEP and assistants, parents working in the European Commission, as well as representatives of the European Space Agency, assisted to the event.

The contact was distributed over EchoLink and IRLP networks by John Spasojevitch, AG9D.

Two hours later, three space travellers, representing three Space Agencies, visited the Exhibition: ISS Commander Frank De Winne ON1DWN , Robert Thirsk VA3CSA and Roman Romanenko. Thirty more students from several schools joined the audience, as well as several MEP and assistants. Among them former cosmonaut Vladimir Remek, now member of the European Parliament representing the Czech Republic.


4.   ESA plans installation of ham radio equipment on Columbus

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA will install ARISS equipment on the European Space Laboratory Columbus, now integrated in the International Space Station.

VHF and UHF Ericsson transceivers, already onboard, will become operational, using the ARISS built antenna that was installed on Columbus earlier, by EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity).


5.   ESA considers HamTV

The European Space Agency presently examines the possibility to install a Digital Amateur Television transmitter on Columbus.

This S-Band “HamTV” transmitter would use one of the ARISS L/S-band antennas installed on the nadir of Columbus. 

An ad-hoc ARISS working group has been set up, dubbed ARCOL WG, which meets via teleconference and studies the many technical aspects of DATV (Digital Amateur Television) transmitted from a LEO satellite, the ISS navigating on a Low Earth Orbit.

If this project comes to achievement, ARISS school contacts will be enhanced with video and interested radio amateurs will have a challenging study object at their disposal.


  1. ARISSat-1

February 3, 2003,  Russian cosmonaut Tokarev launched, by hand, from the International Space Station, SuitSat-1/Radioskaf, a discarded Russian Orlan Space Suit. converted into an amateur radio satellite.

This mission captured the imagination of people and students around the world and plans were quickly made to build a second SuitSat, more Russian space suits being discarded. Unluckily, due to a lack of space onboard the ISS, two Orlan space suits had to be discarded before the new radio equipment was ready.  None the less, the project was not abandoned, but converted into an amateur satellite to be hand launched from the ISS. A new name was chosen: ARISSat-1/Radioskaf B.

The Russian describe it as Earth artificial satellite (EAS) Kedr, named after Yuri Gagarin’s call sign Kedr during his historical flight.  

Built by AMSAT NA, to be launched from the ISS by two Russian cosmonauts around the end of February 2011, ARISSat-1 comprises:

-          a Linear Transponder, mode V/U (70 cm Up, 2m Down), to be worked with a QRP transmitter and omni antennas

-          a Digital Beacon transmitting experimental telemetry data in BPSK-1000 format

-          a CW Beacon

-          FM Voice Telemetry and SSTV in Robot-36 format

-          24 FM Voice Greetings, mostly children, in 15 different languages (English, Russian, French, Italian, Dutch, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Catalan, Bengali, Hebrew, Nepalese,). Some greetings comprise a “secret” word.

If this mission is successful, it will not only be an interesting amateur radio experiment, but it can, if duly set to work by the amateur radio community, become a powerful means to promote amateur radio in schools.


  1. FUNcube

With a goal similar to that of ARISSat-1, AMSAT UK is developing FUNcube. FUNcube is an educational cubesat project which is intended to enthuse, excite and educate young people about radio, space, physics and electronics. It will support other educational Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) initiatives.


FUNcube’s primary mission is to provide downlink telemetry that can be easily received by schools and colleges for educational outreach purposes.


The main target audience is students, at both primary and secondary levels, and the project includes the development of a simple and cheap “ground station” operating on VHF frequencies in the Amateur Satellite Service.


This “station” will simply be a USB dongle which will receive the signals direct from the satellite and transfer the data to specially developed graphical software running on any Windows laptop. The required antenna will be no more than a basic VHF dipole.


The telemetry will provide information about:

-          On board temperatures – internal and external.

-          Voltages and currents flowing from the solar arrays and to/from the battery.

-          Temperatures from external metal strips which have different finishes to provide an enhanced demonstration of the “Leslie’s Cube” experiment. (One of the traditional demonstrations of how objects emit heat) 


Additional educational objectives and opportunities offered by the project include:

-          “Whole Orbit Data” for orbit illumination/eclipse demonstrations.

-          More advanced demonstrations relating to antenna radiation patterns and levels of solar radiation.

-          Long term effects of radiation on microcircuits and other subjects would also be possible.

-          Integration into the maths and physics curricula at primary and secondary levels

-          Demonstrations of radio communications at schools

-          Involvement of university undergraduates for more advanced studies – “ranging” etc


The FUNcube project also includes the development of suitable software to enable the display of the telemetry data and orbital tracking/prediction information and actual satellite attitude in an interesting and lively way. The display software will be developed in collaboration with teachers and will be available in different “flavours” to accommodate a variety of age groups.


In addition to displaying the telemetry, the software will also have a live “tracking map” display with predictions for the particular school location and be capable of visually showing the spacecraft attitude and spin rates etc.


The payload will also enable the uploading (indirectly via a moderated host) of short greetings messages for schools to use and the deposition of the data received by a school on a central database.


Measuring just 10x10x10 cm, and with a mass of less than 1kg it will be the smallest satellite ever to carry such a sophisticated communications payload


When the satellite is “in eclipse” it will normally operate as a normal U/V linear transponder for use by radio amateurs.


The project commenced in October 2009 and it is planned that the built and verified satellite will be ready for launch by mid 2011.


ARSPEX Bulletins

In 2010, 37 ARISS-Europe News Bulletins were circulated to more than 1300 subscribers.

Most News Bulletins were also posted on the IARU Region 1 website.


            Respectfully submitted


Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARSPEX WG chairman