Jan. 11, 2002

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1726)

Ed Campion
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
(Phone: 301/286-0697)



As astronauts and cosmonauts have adapted to home life on the International Space Station, they have found amateur radio, often referred to as ham radio, and its electronic connection to life here on Earth to be a constant companion.

During a spacewalk planned for January 14, the crew will install an antenna system that ultimately will enable a key facet of the ham radio station to move into much more comfortable and convenient surroundings inside the station's living quarters.

Since November 2000 amateur radio equipment has been used by Expedition astronauts and cosmonauts to talk to hundreds of kids in schools around the world, as well as to friends, family and others on Earth.

During the spacewalk, Expedition Four Commander Yuri Onufrienko and Flight Engineer Carl Waltz will venture outside the station and install the first of four antennas built by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) team.

"The installation of this first antenna on the outside of Zvezda will allow the crew to set up ham radio equipment in their living quarters," said Frank Bauer, chief of the Guidance, Navigation and Control Center at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The Zarya location worked well, but this new setup is much more comfortable and convenient and should allow for more contact between the crew and amateur radio operators and schools on Earth."

The Russians designed Zvezda with four special ports for installation of antennas that serve two functions: amateur radio and a Russian Extravehicular Activity (EVA) -- or spacewalk --television system. The antenna will support Russian video transmission during Russian spacewalks, and during normal operations will support amateur radio activities. The other three antennas will be installed later this year.

Like the space station itself, these new antennas are the result of an international team effort. The Italian partners provided one portion, the Russians designed the system and provided the EVA handling and attachment hardware, and NASA performed the assembly and tests to qualify the units for use in space.

In 1996, delegates from eight nations involved in the space station project, representing major national radio organizations and The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), signed an agreement forming ARISS to design, build and operate amateur radio equipment.

In the United States, the American Radio Relay League and AMSAT provide leadership and consultation. They donate and build hardware and make sure safety and qualification tests are successfully completed.

"Astronauts and cosmonauts are ardent supporters of educational outreach contacts with schools," said Bauer, who in addition to his NASA duties serves as vice president for AMSAT's human space flight division. "They have made contacts with hundreds of school children at more than 40 schools around the world."

In the future, ARISS hopes to fly a slow-scan television system on the International Space Station.

More information about amateur radio on the space station is available at: