November 30, 2008



Twenty-five years ago this week, Owen Garriott, W5LFL, made history by being the first amateur radio operator to talk to hams from space.  Owen's historic flight on the STS-9 Space Shuttle Columbia mission was launched on November 28 and landed on December 8, 1983.  Owen's ham radio adventure on STS-9 ushered in a host of outstanding outreach activities that continue today with the ARISS program. 

Many will recall that first set of contacts and downlinks with Owen. Those first contacts allowed each of us to share the excitement of space exploration through Owen's first-hand eyewitness accounts.  Owen's ham radio legacy enabled space travelers that have flown on the Space Shuttle, the Space Station Mir and now the International Space Station to share their journey of exploration.  And Owen's son Richard, W5KWQ just a month ago carried the torch further to become the first 2nd generation amateur radio operator to talk to hams from space.  What other hobby, except amateur radio, could or would open the communications lines of space travelers beyond that of the space agencies or international heads of state ?

To celebrate our 25 years of amateur radio operations from space, the ARISS team has planned a set of special event opportunities during the month of December and part of January.  A special certificate is being developed for those who communicate with the ISS, either 2-way direct (with the ISS crew, the digipeater, or cross band repeater), or 1-way reception of SSTV or voice downlink.  Several events will be described here with several "surprises" planned over the month-long celebration.  The surprises will be announced once we are prepositioned to accomplish them.

Specifically, the following is being planned in the near-term:

---December 1-5--in addition to school contacts and APRS digi operations, we plan to configure the radio system for cross band repeater operations.  This will utilize the standard U/V operations in low power mode.
---December 7-12 we will run a test of 9600 baud packet operations on the simplex frequency 145.825 MHz.
---Given that PCSAT should be in full sun starting December 9, December 14-19 we will switch to 1200 baud packet on 145.825 to support double hop opportunities.
---And at times, especially during the weekends, you might see some SSTV operations if the crew is available.

We will provide more updates in the near future.  We would like to remind everyone that ISS flight requirements related to EVA and vehicle activity may require the radio to be off for some portion of this schedule. And school contacts and general QSO opportunities by the crew will also preempt this schedule for short periods of time.  (But remember that if you hear these, you still qualify for a commemorative certificate).

In the meantime, enjoy the ARISS ops on ISS!  And congratulations to Owen Garriott, W5LFL, on the 25th anniversary of his historic flight!!

73,  Frank Bauer, KA3HDO
AMSAT-NA V.P. for Human Spaceflight Programs
ARISS International Chairman