Amateur Radio on The International Space Station


Radio is a funny thing; it’s everywhere, even on the International Space Station. I know that the main focus of this blog is for radio industry, but today I want to take a glance at amateur radio.

An interest in amateur radio can often lead to a career in radio. It can also be incredibly useful in a number of other capacities including as a learning tool, a means of response during natural or man made disasters, and as a mean of communicating with people widely separated by physical distance. What inspired this post is the last item mentioned. In this case, it is a program that my wife discovered online called ARISS.

What is ARISS? Here is the description taken from their website:

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a volunteer program which inspires students, worldwide, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math through 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 along with learning about technology and amateur radio.

ARISS is an international working group, consisting of 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 the national amateur radio organizations and the international AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation) organizations from each country. Since ARISS is international in scope, the team coordinates locally with their respective space agency (e.g. ESA, NASA, JAXA, CSA, and the Russian Space Agency) and as an international team through ARISS working group meetings, teleconferences and through electronic mail.

Here is a program that not only uses radio as a powerful learning tool, but also as a means of communicating with those humans most distant from us: the astronauts orbiting above our heads at the edge of the stratosphere. As someone who grew up watching the Apollo missions, I find this to be incredibly exciting.

Another exciting thing about this is that it engenders an interest in radio as a medium. Speaking for myself, I can attest to this. It was my father’s ham radio addiction that got me interested in the medium, an interest that continue into my college years where I first became a DJ. This is one of the arenas that could well produce some of the industry notables of the future.

Photo courtesy of NASA (through used under its Creative Commons license


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