September 2: Chris Cassidy installed and set up the first element of the ARISS Next Generation Radio System–the Interoperable Radio System (IORS)–in the ISS Columbus module. The IORS is now in operation and consists of the MultiVoltage Power Supply, a specially modified JVC Kenwood transceiver, and associated cables. The ARISS team spent five years developing the IORS, which replaces an intermittent Ericsson radio and packet module. With time, more ARISS equipment will be launched for other ISS modules, and will support different experiments.  ARISS distributed a news release, picked up by many news outlets, sharing that the IORS was activated initially in cross-band repeater mode as a relay station allowing hams on Earth to make radio contacts with one another. Thousands of hams quickly began interfacing with the new ISS system, enjoying the new communications option. A ham radio operator in Mauritius wrote: “Patrice and I had a superb contact via the ARISS FM repeater a few minutes ago. Fine signals both ways on VHF and UHF. Really nice to have the repeater on the air!” Next week the ARISS team will use the new system for an ARISS school contact. ARISS thanks major sponsors NASA and ISS National Lab for supporting the ARISS team!  The team is already shared ideas for new experiments to try.  

September 2: A successful ARISS contact with Chris Cassidy was sponsored by the KMO Kolska Wyspa (a club of teenage explorers) for its students and those from other schools in Kolo, Poland: Adam Mickiewicz Primary School No. 2, Kazimierz Wielki Secondary School, and Martinuary Insurgents Primary School.  Students, ages 12 to 19, and staff gathering at the Mickiewicz school totaled 29, while 61 viewed the livestream YouTube, and 42 watched live video provided by the British Amateur Television Club (BATC). BATC viewers could also see video of Martin Diggins handling the radios at his Australian ARISS radio telebridge station, relaying Cassidy’s voice and the Polish youths’ voices. Cassidy answered 13 student questions. Two TV stations and a photo agency were on hand covering the day’s activities. The KMO club leaders, some from area ham radio clubs, work with teachers and students promoting EarthKAM and MoonKam activities in cooperation with Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw.  The Wielki school is known for its outstanding robotics program. Younger students studied space, handled ham radio equipment, and regularly updated a bulletin board showcasing the latest news from ESA, NASA, and the Sally Ride Science program. KMO students learned to solder, then assembled robots, learned to control the robots, and older students moved on to bigger robots. After participating in EarthKam, they put on a show called “The Earth from the Sky.”

August 24: The Queensland Government Department of Education (DoE) in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia sponsored an ARISS contact with Chris Cassidy for the 4th annual i-Educate Conference, this year with educators online. The conference, considered the premier professional development technological conference for all Queensland educators, is led by the DoE IT branch. During the contact, a group of 30 students and staff from three schools (Mount Crosby State School, Runcorn Heights State School and Victoria Point State High School) assembled in a DoE office building and Cassidy answered 11 questions from the 13- and 14-year olds. Online for the ARISS contact were 265 educators while 69 others listened on EchoLink and IRLP (an online amateur radio audio conference service). The IT branch interacts with all Queensland schools providing guidance in implementing technology for student learning in classes.  

August 7: Senior Education Manager Dan Barstow at ISS National Lab asked ARISS educator Melissa Pore to invite two students to be recorded for a NASA video downlink. Bishop O’Connell High School had an ARISS contact two years ago and students continue to study radio and space.  High schoolers Mira and Will were selected for the downlink because of design studies they’ve done, and they could ask Chris Cassidy about these. Mira enquired about future automated space vehicles that might result in less training needed to go to space. Will requested advice about a prototype space pillow that was designed for microgravity. 

July 17: ARISS balloon race coordinator Joanne Michael in Culver City, CA, was invited by a race participant in Pasco, WA to give a Zoom talk to members of the Prosser Conservatory of Theatre for Children. She discussed the science of radio, showing examples of a radio receiver, transmitter, and antenna, and what they do and how ARISS radio contacts work. She explained differences and similarities of sound waves and radio waves and something these students could easily relate to, how to stop microphone feedback problems! Taking part were 20 students ages 8 to 17, 3 formal educators, and 1 informal educator.

July 17: Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner supported an ARISS contact with students in the Gargarin from Space study program who were participating in the 9th International Aerospace School summer event.  The coordination of activities is based out of Ufa, in the UN Sultanova Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia. Utilizing social distancing, 15 college students, 2 professors, and 2 adults were part of the ARISS contact.

ARISS Upcoming Events

September 10: Students at College Raymond Sirot in Gueux, France are a go for their ARISS radio contact with Chris Cassidy.

September 18: Students from Avellaneda Ikastetxea School in Sodupe, Spain are scheduled to have an ARISS contact with Chris Cassidy.