As astronauts and cosmonauts have adapted to home life on
the International Space Station, they have found amateur
radio, often referred to as ham radio, and its electronic
connection to life here on Earth to be a constant companion.

During a spacewalk planned for January 14, the crew will
install an antenna system that ultimately will enable a key
facet of the ham radio station to move into much more
comfortable and convenient surroundings inside the station’s
living quarters.

Since November 2000 amateur radio equipment has been used by
Expedition astronauts and cosmonauts to talk to hundreds of
kids in schools around the world, as well as to friends,
family and others on Earth.

During the spacewalk, Expedition Four Commander Yuri
Onufrienko and Flight Engineer Carl Waltz will venture outside
the station and install the first of four antennas built by
the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)

“The installation of this first antenna on the outside of
Zvezda will allow the crew to set up ham radio equipment in
their living quarters,” said Frank Bauer, chief of the
Guidance, Navigation and Control Center at NASA’s Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The Zarya location
worked well, but this new setup is much more comfortable and
convenient and should allow for more contact between the crew
and amateur radio operators and schools on Earth.”

The Russians designed Zvezda with four special ports for
installation of antennas that serve two functions: amateur
radio and a Russian Extravehicular Activity (EVA) — or
spacewalk –television system. The antenna will support
Russian video transmission during Russian spacewalks, and
during normal operations will support amateur radio
activities. The other three antennas will be installed later
this year.

Like the space station itself, these new antennas are the
result of an international team effort. The Italian partners
provided one portion, the Russians designed the system and
provided the EVA handling and attachment hardware, and NASA
performed the assembly and tests to qualify the units for use
in space.

In 1996, delegates from eight nations involved in the space
station project, representing major national radio
organizations and The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation
(AMSAT), signed an agreement forming ARISS to design, build
and operate amateur radio equipment.

In the United States, the American Radio Relay League and
AMSAT provide leadership and consultation. They donate and
build hardware and make sure safety and qualification tests
are successfully completed.

“Astronauts and cosmonauts are ardent supporters of
educational outreach contacts with schools,” said Bauer, who
in addition to his NASA duties serves as vice president for
AMSAT’s human space flight division. “They have made contacts
with hundreds of school children at more than 40 schools
around the world.”

In the future, ARISS hopes to fly a slow-scan television
system on the International Space Station.

More information about amateur radio on the space station is
available at: