ARISS-EUROPE NEWS BULLETIN,
Amateur Radio on board the International Space Station (ARISS) is an international working group of amateur radio societies of the countries participating to the ISS, devoted to implementing the amateur radio station on board the ISS and in charge of planning school contacts with astronauts.
More information is available on the ARISS-Europe website <http://www.ariss-eu.org/>
ISS COMMEMORATIVE EVENT
The ARISS team has had several inquiries on what happened regarding crew operation of the ISS Ham radio system during the start of the ISS Commemorative Event this past weekend. With this e-mail I intend to give you all as many facts as we have at this time. As we get more information, we will pass it along.
To our knowledge, it appears that the ISS crew was not on the air this weekend. This is based on a number of reports from hams all across the world. I would like to thank all that took time out to report what happened during the ISS passes in their part of the world. It is helping us convey solid information to our home organizations and to the space agencies.
Several of you were questioning whether the ARISS team did, in fact, get a message to the crew on this weekend's plans. I can tell you that I am certain of this. As was mentioned in my last e-mail, after communications were sent to Mike Foale regarding the special event (through the NASA channels), Mike Foale had responded back that he would support on the order of about 2 passes per weekend. As I stated, the ARISS team got this information through NASA and directly from Mike. Also, today I got confirmation that final information regarding this weekend's event (pass times that we shared with you on the 26th of November) was uplinked to the ISS crew on Friday. So our information was there and the crew knew about the event.
Now, what happened?
We have discussed this with the NASA folks and there are two events that potentially could have impeded on Mike's ability to get on the air. The first is that the ISS crew have had some serious issues with the Treadmill and it is understood that Mike put a bunch of time (his own time) this past weekend working on this important device that is critical for the crew's health and well being. The other event is the "crushing" noise heard at the aft end of the Service Module this past week. It has been reported in the press that the crew heard this noise and then initially thought that the Service Module was hit with debris. At this point, this is not believed to be the case, however, the ISS International partners have asked the Russian team to look into the matter further since it occurred in their segment. It was speculated that Mike and Sasha might have gotten instructions from the Russian team to scour the Service Module in an effort to determine the cause of this odd noise.
Some have stated this but I will reiterate it. The Expedition 8 crew are truly die-hard hams. Those of you who have been around a while know that Mike Foale was extremely active on the bands during his flights on the Space Shuttle and on Mir. Sasha Kaleri was also a very active ham on Mir. We have two great hams on board. We also have two guys running an entire space station with a large cadre of scientific experiments. A year ago, that took 3 people. So you can imagine that they are quite busy. This makes ISS Ham more vulnerable when issues occur on ISS. As we continually state, operation of the ISS Ham radio is "completely contingent upon the crew schedule and other duties or issues that might crop up on ISS." We are impressed that the crew agreed to support the ISS Commemorative event. And we hope that they will be on the air in the very near future.
So, where do we go from here?
Well, we have a request into NASA to ask the Expedition 8 crew more details on what occurred this past weekend and, more importantly, if they will be will and able to support some (probably 2) passes this weekend. As we get more information, we will share it with you.
I hope this helps explain what we know at this time. The ARISS team recognizes that it is very frustrating to get expectations up and then not meet expectations. It is never our intent to do this to the world-wide amateur radio community. But we do want to alert you of potential opportunities as they become available. We will continue to do this, as long as you all remember that these contacts are contingent upon the crew schedule.
Frank Bauer, KA3HDO
ARISS International Chairman