Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), the first-ever ISS payload activated by the crew, is gearing up for its 1000th educational ham radio contact in March. A jointly produced ARRL-NASA-AMSAT video “Celebrating the 1000th Contact” has been posted on YouTube.
ARISS celebrated 15 years of a permanent ham radio presence in space last December. In 2000, several pupils and a teacher got to chat on 2 meters with the first ISS Commander, William “Shep” Shepherd, KD5GSL. Since that first ARISS school contact, astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the station have talked with students in 44 states in the US and in 51 other countries. ARISS anticipates the 1000th educational radio contact will occur during March.
On an application basis, ARISS organizes scheduled Amateur Radio contact between ISS crew members and students at a school or less-formal education venue. Experienced amateur radio volunteers work with ARISS and individual schools to handle the technical aspects. Before and during these radio contacts, students, educators, parents, and communities learn about space, space technologies, and Amateur Radio.
ARISS touches tens of thousands of students per year. One ARISS goal is to inspire an interest among young people in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects and in STEM careers. Another is to provide an educational opportunity for students, teachers, and the public to learn about space exploration and satellites, as well as about wireless technology and radio science through Amateur Radio.
ARISS is a cooperative venture of the ARRL and AMSAT in cooperation with international Amateur Radio societies and NASA.