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International Space Station Reference

Ham Radio

IMAGE: ISS Science Officer and Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
ISS Science Officer and Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson holds one of the two amateur radio antennas in the Unity node on the International Space Station.

There are four amateur radio antennas on the International Space Station. The Expedition Four crew installed the WA3 and WA4 antennas in January 2002, and the Expedition Five crew installed WA1 and WA2 in August 2002. Each of the four antennas can support amateur radio operations on multiple frequencies and allow for simultaneous automatic and crew-tended operations. Having four antennas also ensures that ham radio operations can continue aboard the station should one or more of the antennas fail.

Three of the four antennas are identical and each can support both transmit and receive operations on 2 meter, 70 cm, L band and S band. They also support reception for the station's Russian Glisser TV system, which is used during spacewalks. The fourth antenna has a 2.5-meter (8 foot) long vertical whip that can be used to support High Frequency (HF) operations, particularly on 10 meters.

In the near future, the space station ham shack will install a dual-band, 2 meter/70 cm radio and a 70 cm radio that will use the downward/Earth-facing WA1 and WA2 antennas, respectively. HF operations will use the WA4 antenna. There is no L or S band equipment currently under development, but several ideas are in the works.

The entire International ARISS team worked together to bring these antennas to fruition. The Russians provided the feedthroughs and supported the spacewalks, the U.S. team did the equipment integration and certification, and the Italian, U.S. and Russian teams all developed portions of the equipment.

Ham Radio in Space

IMAGE: Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko
Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko, works with the Amateur Radio (ham) WA3 Antenna Assembly on the International Space Station.

Related Links
Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX)
Amateur Radio International Space Station (ARISS)
Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT)
American Radio Relay League (ARRL)
Wanna Be a Ham?What is AMSAT?AntennasCurriculumPhase 1SAREXRadio ClubsHam Radio

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 10/31/2002
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