January 16, 2002

A New Antenna for ARISS

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station got a new antenna January 14, thanks to a spacewalk by Expedition 4 crew members Yuri Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and Carl Walz, KC5TIE. Another of new ARISS ham antenna--there are four in all--could be installed January 25.

''It was beautiful to watch,'' ARISS Board Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said. ''It went like clockwork, everything deploying just as it was supposed to.''

While crewmate Dan Bursch, KD5PNU, operated the robotic arm and monitored and videotaped the spacewalk--or EVA--from inside the ISS, Onufrienko and Walz first relocated a Russian Strela cargo crane used to maneuver equipment and spacewalkers. Then, they installed the flexible-tape VHF-UHF Amateur Radio antenna on a handrail at the end of the Zvezda Service Module--the crew's living quarters. The new VHF-UHF antenna is the first one designed for and dedicated specifically to support ARISS operations.

Installation of the new antenna on Zvezda paves the way for two separate ham stations aboard Space Station Alpha. The ARISS initial ham station gear--single-band hand-held transceivers for 2 meters and 70 cm--now is installed in the Zarya Functional Cargo Block. Tentative plans call for a 2-meter station to remain in Zarya, whilea second 70-cm station will be set up in Zvezda using the newly installed antenna.

ARISS ARRL representative Rosalie White, K1STO, said she, too, was pleased to see this phase of the project coming together. ''We started all this in 1998--and now we have a permanent antenna on the outside of the station,'' she said. ''Pretty cool.''

Bauer congratulated the ARISS international team for their assistance in the antenna project. ''We have taken our ideas, concepts and vision and transformed them into reality,'' he said.