The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program has kicked off a fund-raising program, and it’s offering an ARISS Challenge Coin as a token of appreciation to those who contribute above a certain level. ARISS relies on resource support from NASA, ARRL, AMSAT, and individual donors and volunteers to ensure day-to-day operation of its programs and to pay for spaceflight equipment certification. In light of budget cutbacks at NASA over the past 2 years, the funding needed to cover operational expenses down the road has become more uncertain, however, and ARISS leadership initiated the fund-raising effort with the goal of securing greater financial stability.
“To assure the future of the program, we are looking to individuals and corporate sponsors to provide the resources we will need to sustain operations and to acquire needed equipment upgrades,” said ARISS International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO.
Plans are under way to develop a new, higher-power Amateur Radio station for the ISS Columbus module. The current radio is a lower-power unit that sometimes results in weak signals during ISS-to-Earth educational contacts. A new radio system will improve communication capability for students scheduled to participate in ARISS educational contacts and related activities. The new system also would allow greater interoperability between the Columbus module and the Russian Service Module. ARISS said that integration of the equipment into the ISS infrastructure and the necessary testing and certification require hours of engineering resources that it cannot afford.
“Each ARISS contact offers the opportunity to inspire young people through ARISS’s unique window into space exploration activities, opening the horizon of possibilities of a career in a STEM field,” said ARRL Education Services Manager, Debra Johnson, K1DMJ. “Each contact also introduces students and their communities to Amateur Radio. The program needs your help to secure these opportunities for the future.”
Individuals may donate to ARISS online via the AMSAT website (select the “ARISS Donate” button). AMSAT is contributing the necessary personnel resources to handle gifts to ARISS. Individuals contributing $100 or more will receive the new ARISS Challenge Coin. Corporate donors should contact Frank Bauer. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service, ARISS, and Debra Johnson, K1DMJ