Saturday, April 11, 2020

New Ham Gear Arrives at Space Station

The International Space Station (NASA photo)
Updating an earlier story, the first shipment of new ham gear for the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program has been launched successfully and has arrived at the space station. The new ARISS Interoperable Radio System equipment is the first upgrade of amateur gear aboard the ISS since a ham station was first installed on the space station 20 years ago. According to the ARRL, the new gear includes a higher-powered radio, an enhanced voice repeater and updated APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) and slow-scan TV capabilities. There has not be a timetable announced yet for installation of the new gear, although it was expected that it would take the crew nearly a month to unload everything from the 4300-pound cargo shipment launched on March 7 (UTC). 
The current shipment of equipment will be installed in the station's Columbus module. A second package of ham gear, scheduled for launch later this year, will be installed in the Russian section of the station. The AMSAT News Service says a video of the Space-X launch carrying the ham equipment may be viewed online at <>.

In other space and satellite news, AMSAT's PSAT3 cubesat was about to be shipped to Alaska for launch in early March when the flight on which it was supposed to fly was cancelled due to problems with the launch vehicle. According to the AMSAT News Service, the launch was part of the DARPA Launch Challenge, under which a launch provider could win a $10 million prize if it was able to deliver a ready-to-launch rocket within 30 days of being told its launch location and payloads … and then do it again 30 days later. The AMSAT satellite was scheduled to be on the second launch. However, the first launch ran into problems that could not be resolved before the launch window and DARPA Challenge deadline had passed. There was no winner, and the second launch has been scrubbed. AMSAT is now looking for another launch opportunity for its ready-to-fly cubesat.