Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International delegates were pleased to learn last week that an ARISS plan is under consideration by NASA’s Deep Space Gateway (DSG) program. NASA Gateway Utilization Manager John Guidi, ex-KF4YUI, informed those attending the annual ARISS International in-person meeting, held in College Park, Maryland, that ARISS is the only noncommercial entity whose ideas are under study by the program. The ARISS plan focuses on Amateur Radio communication, including optical communication channels, as well as equipment development, team cooperation, education, and public outreach.
“Naturally, because the NASA Deep Space Gateway program is so new and has yet to be fleshed out, ARISS needs to follow NASA’s lead in being open to how the DSG program flows,” ARRL ARISS-US Delegate Rosalie White, K1STO, explained. “ARISS’s first moves need to be loose enough that the plan, development, and execution can go in ways that dovetail with what is needed.”
The Deep Space Gateway would be a small outpost orbiting the moon that would act as a “spaceport for human and robotic exploration to the moon and beyond,” NASA has said. Crewed by four people, it would provide an operational platform for further exploring the lunar surface and a hub to deeper space destinations. NASA hopes to have the completed Gateway in lunar orbit as early as 2024.
The ARISS-International annual meeting on October 17 – 19 ran back to back with the first-ever ARISS Education Summit, held October 15 – 16. At the international sessions, ARISS delegates and team members from around the world presented and listened to talks on all aspects of ARISS, from operations to education to hardware — current and upgrades — to future projects. The team heard the latest news on HamTV, the Interoperable Radio System, and the antenna change-out required by the European Space Agency’s Bartolomeo platform, and proposed Astrobee activities, HamTV II, and Radio-Pi projects.
Astrobee is a robot that will fly around the ISS with the astronauts to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies for use in zero-gravity, aid astronauts with routine chores, and offer Houston flight controllers additional eyes and ears on the spacecraft.
Team members enjoyed viewing a live-streamed ARISS contact in Belgium. Team members unable to travel to Maryland were able to teleconference into the sessions.
On hand for the earlier ARISS Education Summit were teachers from the US and elsewhere; ARISS-US Education Committee members; STEM educators from College Park Airport Museum; education leaders from various NASA entities, including the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) office, nearby Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), and the manager of the ISS US National Laboratory — Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS); a group of SCaN-sponsored mid-Atlantic teachers, and University of Maryland educators and students. Attendees saw a demonstration of ARISS slow-scan television (SSTV) and several ham satellite contacts. ARISS-US Education Committee teacher Melissa Pore, KM4CZN, arrived from Virginia with eight of her students, who talked about their ARISS-related STEM studies.
Other committee members who were part of a panel session discussing educator perspectives on ARISS also gave presentations on the ARISS education proposal process and on-orbit prediction programs. Astronaut Paul Richards, KC5ZSZ, led a discussion on space and education; CASIS’s Dan Barstow, KA1ARD, spoke on exploring with the ISS, and SCaN’s Jimmy Acevedo, KM4QLE, presented on kit-based learning.