ISS Ham Radio Enthusiasts,
I wanted to provide a progress report on the ISS Ham Radio activities. And to address some questions that have come up related to ARISS operations and equipment upgrade and repair.
With the successful Shuttle return to flight, the International Space Station Program construction has moved into high gear with delivery and assembly of new ISS modules. If all goes well, the new European Columbus Module and Japanese Kibo module will be installed on ISS in the next 12 months. This substantial workload on the crew is impacting ARISS operations directly.
The launching of any new or replacement radios or computers has been significantly curtailed due to the extremely limited upmass capability. There are just too many higher priority activities from an international space agency perspective and frankly we are a lower priority. The extra workload on the crew has taken its toll on ARISS - they have had very little extra time for Amateur Radio activities beyond school contacts. This is somewhat frustrating to the general ham radio community and the ARISS International Team, though the team is pleased that the crew has been able to speak so often with youth groups worldwide, piquing their interest in Amateur Radio, science, technology, engineering and math.
The ARISS team had been hopeful that Charles Simonyi would have been able to restore the Kenwood D700 radio system to full functionality after an accidental reprogramming of the radio occurred near the end of Exp 13. The ARISS team worked diligently with the Simonyi team to get Charles licensed, trained, and prepared to perform the Kenwood reprogramming. Unfortunately, the ARISS team hit a major hurdle a few weeks before Charles' launch. We learned that additional software certification steps were required to allow the reprogramming software to be used on the ISS computers. Through heroic efforts by the team, final software certification was successfully completed. Unfortunately, this was completed only a few days before Charles' return from space. As a result, the ARISS team was informed by the mission control team and some of our international team partners that it there was insufficient time to allow Charles to complete the restoration. Thus, the Kenwood restoration was not completed by Charles. This last minute hiccup in software certification was not predictable. So there was no way the ARISS team could have better prepared for Charles' flight.
At this point in time, it appears that a full restoration will require a substantial, concerted effort with full cooperation from our international colleagues and the Russian and US space agencies. We need to make sure that all components necessary for a successful reprogramming are identified, purchased (if necessary), certified, tested and flown together before the radio will be fully restored. Realizing this will be especially challenging due to the upmass issue I described above. This will likely take several months to accomplish as the team will have to begin from square one. In the short term, requests for some investigative analysis by the crew will be made. This will enable the ARISS team to determine if the radio can be partially restored to provide some of the unattended operations that it once provided.
With Charles' successful landing, we have started down this new path. We will continue to keep you informed of our progress.
In closing, we are aggressively working this issue, despite several setbacks. While our plans to have Charles reprogram the radio were thwarted, we were happy that he could speak to so many hams around the world during his short stay. And capture the imagination of students around the globe.
On behalf of the ARISS team, we thank all of you for your interest and enthusiasm in Ham Radio on the ISS.
73, Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO ARISS International Chairman AMSAT-NA V.P. for Human Spaceflight Programs