December 06, 2010



On 21 December 2000, astronaut William Shepherd turned from his usual activities aboard the newly occupied International Space Station (ISS). Floating over to a “ham” radio attached to a station bulkhead, 

he called the Burbank School in Burbank, Illinois and was soon talking with 14 enthusiastic students. This month, amateur radio operators world-wide celebrate the tenth anniversary of this first school contact from ISS.


Since that first contact, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) volunteers have conducted 565 successful contacts in 40 countries in 5 continents, allowing thousands of students to share the excitement of those first 14. Moreover, tens of thousands of students, faculty, and parents have participated by planning and attending these events.


ARISS contacts have prompted countless students to seriously consider pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers, including becoming an astronaut. Educational programs and amateur radio clubs established at participating schools continue to inspire students long after the contact has ended.


The use of amateur radio in space began in 1983 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. The Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) flew on 28 shuttle missions, proving the educational and crew morale benefits 

of ham radio. Ham radio also proved popular with the cosmonauts aboard space station Mir. The value of amateur radio in space was so apparent to NASA and the Russian Space Agency that the ARISS radio became the first experiment to be activated on ISS.


ARISS is a volunteer program that inspires students the world over to pursue STEM careers by providing amateur radio communications opportunities with the International Space Station (ISS) on-orbit crew. Students learn about life on board the ISS and explore Earth from space through science and math activities. ARISS provides opportunities for the school community (students, teachers, families, and local residents) to become more aware of the substantial benefits of human spaceflight and the exploration and discovery that occur on spaceflight journeys while learning about technology and amateur radio.


ARISS is an international working group comprising delegations from 9 countries, including several countries in Europe as well as Japan, Russia, Canada, and the USA. The organization is run by volunteers from national amateur radio organizations and international AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation) organizations in each member country. ARISS team members in each country work with their respective 

space agencies (ESA, NASA, JAXA, CSA, and the Russian Space Agency). In the USA, ARISS works with the NASA Teaching From Space program.


Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARISS Chairman