Welcome on board
The International Space Station is permanently manned by teams of astronauts and cosmonauts. Most have an amateur radio licence.
Amateur Radio societies from the ISS partner countries, in the USA, Canada, Russia, Europe and Japan, have set up ARISS - "Amateur Radio on the International Space Station".
ARISS is a volunteering working group devoted to develop and put into operation the onboard amateur radio station. ARISS-Europe is the European branch of ARISS.
An amateur radio transmitter is located in the Russian segment, in the "Service Module", the Zvesda. There are two multiband and multimode transceivers.
In the Columbus module other amateur VHF and UHF radio transceivers are operational. In 2013, a S-band DATV transmitter will be installed. This transmitter, dubbed "HamVideo", will use one of the "L/S-band patch" antennas installed on the nadir of the Columbus module. The full story of these patch antennas is related on the Columbus page of this website. A presentation of the new Ham Video transmitter is available in pdf format: see link in left side column.
The onboard ARISS radiostation offers a permanent "space platform" to the worldwide amateur radio community. Several operational modes are automated and used by groundstations without crew care (packet radio, VHF/UHF crossband repeater, SSTV downlink). Cosmonauts and astronauts also use the radiostation to contact groundbound amateur radiostations in their frree time.
The Space Agencies have entrusted ARISS with the task to organise "ARISS Schoolcontacts". When a contact is scheduled, volunteering amateur satellite operators set up a groundstation in the selected school. During the ten minutes "pass" of the ISS, an astronaut answers the questions prepared by the students. See the School Contacts page for more details.
When a satellite type ground radiostation cannot be set up in the school, a dedicated volunteering "telebridge" amateur radiostation establishes the radio contact with the ISS and signals are relayed to the school per telephone. ARISS counts ten "telebridge" ground stations, located in the USA , Argentina , Europe , Australia , South Africa and Hawaii . The European telebridge radiostation ON4ISS is located in Belgium. A second telebridge radiostation IK1SLD, operated by Claudio Arriotti, is located in Casale Monferrato, Italy. Whenever possible, the audio of the ARISS School Contacts is distributed, worldwide and real time, by EchoLink and IRLP.
When the downlink signals of an ARISS School Contact are audible in Europe , an ARISS-Europe News Bulletin is circulated to the subscribers of a mailing list (nearly 1900 subscribers). Subscription facilities are provided in upper right corner of this webpage: see link "News Bulletin mailing list").
Gaston Bertels, ON4WF