Friday, July 22, 2011

End of Shuttle Program Marks End of Era in Ham Radio As Well

The landing of Atlantis in mid-July marked the end of the U.S. space shuttle program, but it also marked the end of a nearly-30-year association between ham radio and the shuttle program. The first ham radio operation from space was conducted aboard the shuttle Columbia in 1983 by then-Astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL. The ongoing tradition of ham radio contacts between astronauts in orbit and children at schools around the world began on the shuttle as SAREX, the Shuttle Amateur Radio EXperiment, which has since morphed into ARISS, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station.
On the topic of ARISS, the ARRL reports that four astronauts and astronaut candidates recently passed their ham radio license exams, and one astronaut upgraded from Technician to General.