January 26, 2002


Amateur Radio on the International Space Station gained a new HF antenna January 25--although there's no HF gear aboard the ISS as yet. The antenna--the second of four slated for installation aboard the Service Module--was put into place during a spacewalk--or EVA--conducted by Expedition 4 Crew Commander Yuri Onufrienko, RK3DUO, and astronaut Dan Bursch, KD5PNU.

Georges, HE9JSD of Neuchatel, Switserland recorded the service channel 143.625 MHz during a pass over western Europe on 25 Janv, 21h30 UTC, while the EVA was going on. This recording will be available on the QSP page of the ARISS-Europe website.

The antenna is a flexible-tape design--similar to, but longer than, a VHF-UHF antenna installed during a January 14 EVA by Onufrienko and astronaut Carl Walz, KC5TIE. ARISS Board Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said the antenna would be installed at the end of the Service Module in the 2 o'clock position (6 o'clock is pointing toward Earth).

The HF antenna is a 2.5-meter (8.2-foot) long flexible tape. A picture of the antenna is visible on the ARISS-Europe website (click NEW). Bauer thinks it will definitely work on 10 meters and speculated that it might work on 15 or 20 too. Bauer added that he did not know when HF gear would be transported to the ISS nor when it might be made available for use by a future crew.

The EVA lasted several hours and also involved attaching six thruster plume deflectors on the ISS as well as the ham antenna work. Installation involved not only the mechanical deployment of the antenna but routing cables, establishing the RF connection and even photographic documentation.

A paper entitled "2001: an Amateur Radio Space Odyssey on the International Space Station," which details the development of ARISS and discusses the four new ARISS antennas is available via the ARISS Web site <http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov/EVAs/amsat01.pdf>.