October 12, 2008


On Sunday, October 12, Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, is scheduled to begin his journey to the International Space Station (ISS) as he blasts off into space via a Russian Soyuz and docks with the ISS two days later; he is due to return to Earth on Thursday, October 23.

Richard, the sixth private citizen to be accepted by the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA) for a short-term mission on the ISS, is the son of Owen Garriott, W5LFL. In 1983, Owen was the first ham to make QSOs from space. Richard said he plans to build on his father's legacy by also making QSOs from the ISS: He plans to perform several school contacts and downlink slow scan television images during his flight, as well as contact the general ham community in his free time and perform random scout contacts during Jamboree on the Air (JOTA).

Richard and Owen have been working as a team to plan how to cram in all of the objectives Richard hopes to achieve in space, including scientific experiments.

Richard and Owen sent this message to all hams:
"We are both very pleased and appreciative of the ARISS and ARRL support in making the voice and SSTV ham operations more fun, interesting to the public, and valuable for research on Richard's flight this October. One of the most exciting aspects of living and working in space is the chance to look back at the Earth. Owen had one of the first opportunities to do this 35 years ago on Skylab. He also had the first opportunity to talk with the ham community from space 25 years ago aboard [NASA shuttle mission] STS-9. Richard now has the opportunity to connect with the ham community almost exactly 25 years after his father's shuttle flight and 35 years after Skylab. One of Richard's primary objectives with his flight is to photograph the Earth 35 years after the first orbital laboratory and look for changes on the Earth in the intervening time."

"While Richard is at the ISS window, he will be operating the amateur SSTV equipment and sending its images down to hams around the world. These downlinks can then be sent to an ARISS central repository for delayed and wider use. We further expect to be able to compare many of the images with near simultaneous, handheld, high resolution digital photo images".

"We are very excited to share this experience with the Amateur Radio community, and thank our fellow hams for their support of this project."

A website has been established to enable amateur radio operators to share their pictures received from the International Space Station's SSTV system. People wishing to view photos captured from the ISS or upload their own captured pictures can go to http://www.amsat.com/ARISS_SSTV/. There is also a blog in which the ARISS SSTV Team will post announcements and additional information about the project. The blog can be viewed at  http://www.ariss-sstv.blogspot.com/.

The ARISS team received word from ARISS Russia delegate Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, that the current ISS crew expect to transmit SSTV on October 12 from 18:00-21:00 UTC. This is your opportunity to test out your SSTV reception capability and to post images on the ARISS SSTV Gallery. The planned downlink for this operation will be 145.80 MHz with Robot 36 as the expected SSTV mode of operation.


Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARISS-Europe chairman