Friday, November 20, 2009

STS-129 Upgrades ISS Ham Capability

Tomorrow's EVA includes the installation of new ham radio antennas to the International Space Station, and a general upgrade to the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) equipment.


Besides taking spare parts to the International Space Station (ISS) this coming Monday, the space shuttle Atlantis (STS-129) will deliver the module antennas for Columbus -- the laboratory built by the European Space Agency (ESA) and host of two Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) antennas.


Astronauts will install and deploy our ARISS antennas during the second spacewalk of STS-129. The ham team will monitor the spacewalk activity via a NASA real-time teleconference call. "The new antennas will increase opportunities for the many hams who covet making contacts with astronauts and cosmonauts," White [ARRL ARISS Program Manager Rosalie White, K1STO] explained. "Frequencies available for transmission to and from Columbus will be 2 meters, 70 centimeters, L-band and S-band. To start, the two Ericcson radios (2 meters and 70 centimeters) that are already on the ISS (but seldom used) will be moved and installed in Columbus."


The antenna -- along with another VHF antenna -- was developed by ARISS in cooperation with the ESA to support an experiment involving the maritime Automatic Identification System (AIS)," Ransom [NASA ISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO] explained. "Both antennas will be installed on the Earth-facing starboard edge of the Columbus module. The AIS antenna will be forward and the ARISS antenna will be aft. The ARISS team is planning to migrate some stowed Amateur Radio gear to take advantage of the new antenna."