Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International delegates and representatives tackled a wide-ranging agenda when they met in late August in Tokyo. The August 20-23 gathering was held in conjunction with the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) 90th anniversary celebration and the JARL Ham Fair. Those attending represented Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia, and the US. The meeting addressed various facets of the ARISS program, including international teamwork, technical systems development, and Amateur Radio operations.
Keigo Komuro, JA1KAB, of ARISS-Japan and JARL delivered opening remarks. ARRL First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR, who was in Tokyo for the JARL Ham Fair, also spoke briefly to the gathering. Kicking off the meeting was a presentation by Hideshi Kagawa of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on its initiatives to launch and deploy small satellites and technology payloads using JAXA’s Epsilon launcher.
During the meeting, delegates voted to study the feasibility of creating an interoperable radio system based on the Kenwood TM-D710 transceiver, which would be interchangeable between the Columbus and Russian ISS modules. “Currently items are certified for one or the other, but not both,” explained NASA ARISS Technical Liaison Mark Steiner, K3MS. “They also use two different voltages, 28 V dc in the Russian segment and 120 V dc in the US segment. Future equipment will be able to be used in either. This will significantly improve our flexibility on orbit.” Steiner added that the next set of equipment being proposed for launch will follow this new requirement for interoperability.
They also agreed to continue studying a proposal to use a so-called “Astro Pi” unit — a modified Rasberry Pi computer device — to generate a slide show of images for the Ham TV DATV system, when no camera is attached. An Astro Pi unit will accompany the UK’s first ESA astronaut, Tim Peake, KG5BVI, into space in November, to be used for educational efforts.
A lot of discussion focused on fundraising and the formation of the ARISS-International Sustainability and Funding Committee. Delegates discussed funding projects and recommended yearly budgets. ARISS Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, encouraged all ARISS regions to support development of an international plan and strategy for funding and resources.
Delegates also considered a revision of the organization’s current terms of reference. The new terms of reference would aim to better formalize and document team roles, responsibilities, and processes, and address other recent changes within the ARISS program.
In addition to the formal proceedings, the ARISS-International group took part in kicking off the JARL Ham Fair, JARL 90th anniversary events, a technical meeting with JVC Kenwood engineers on the TM-D710 interoperable radio system proposal, and touring JAXA’s Tsukuba Space Center and ISS/Kibo control center.
ARISS-International recognized three organizations that have provided sustained support and service to the ARISS program: JARL, for nearly 20 years of ARISS delegation support; JAXA for its sustained support as an ISS space agency, and JVC Kenwood for its leadership in modifying the TM-D700 and TM-D710 radio systems to support ARISS current and future operations.
ARISS-International delegates will meet in November 2016 in Houston, Texas. The date coincides with the 20th anniversary of the inaugural ARISS working group meeting, held in November 1996 at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.
ARISS is a cooperative venture of AMSAT, ARRL, and NASA in the US, and involves other international space agencies and international Amateur Radio organizations around the world. The primary purpose of ARISS is to organize scheduled Amateur Radio contacts between ISS crew members and schools or informal education venues.