ISS amateur radio status- Nov 2007
by Ransom, Kenneth G. (JSC-OC)[BAR]
Amateur radio operations on the ISS have had an interesting year. After being unavailable for months, the packet system was able to be partially restored when Suni Williams performed some basic manual reprogramming of the Kenwood D700 back it June. Unfortunately this occurred just prior to an expedition crew exchange and some miscommunication kept the system off an additional two months until some information about the radio got clarified to the new crew. Since early September, packet has been operational on 145.825 simplex and will stay there until a complete reprogramming of the D700 system is performed. A target date for fully restoring the radio has not been set but it is hoped that the access to a computer on orbit and certification of the reprogramming software can be finalized for implementation during Expedition 17. Due to continuing issues related to the radio misconfiguration, full operational capabilities are not available. Basic voice and packet operations are working but the crossband repeater is not available. Future SSTV operations are on hold until issues related to the system and the radio can be resolved or a plan to utilized another configuration of hardware can be implemented.
On the plus side, school contacts have had a banner year so far with 74 contacts made from Jan 1, 2007 until Oct 31, 2007 (the most ever recorded in a calendar year) and Exp 15 set a new school contact record for most school contacts by an expedition crew with 39. Suni Williams contributed 16, Fyodor Yurchikhin had 3 and Clay Anderson finishing out the expedition with 20.
The top 5 expedition school contact counts are:
1) Exp 15 - 39
2) Exp 12 - 38
3) Exp 14 - 25
4) Exp 10 - 23
5) Exp 3 - 22
In the individual operator standings for most school contact, Suni totaled 33 school contacts during her time on Expeditions 14 and 15 to move her into second place while Clay Anderson reached 21 contacts during his tour on Expeditions 15 and 16 to achieve fifth place.
The top 5 individual school contact counts for a single tour are:
1) Bill McArthur - 37
2) Suni Williams - 33
3) Leroy Chiao - 23
4) Frank Culbertson - 22
5) Clay Anderson - 21
NASA has stated that the next several months will be extremely difficult with all the activity on the ISS. During Expedition 16, three new modules (Harmony, Columbus and the Japanese pressurized storage module) will be installed on the ISS. In addition, Expedition 16 is planned to have three shuttle flights, 2 Soyuz flights, 2 progress flights and the maiden launch of the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle). As such, the initial crew of Expedition 16 has declined to participate in any ARISS activities. This means no school contacts will be planned for the next several months and it is possible that unattended operational support will be sporadic. Once Leopold Eyharts replaces Dan Tani during the STS-122 mission, the opportunity to resume amateur radio related activities should be possible.
Kenneth - N5VHO