A scheduled ARISS contact is a voice-only communication via Amateur Radio between the International Space Station (ISS) crew and classrooms and communities. ARISS contacts allow education audiences to learn firsthand from astronauts what it is like to work and live in space. These scheduled contact opportunities are offered to formal and informal education institutions and organizations, individually or working together. The radio contacts are approximately 10 minutes in length due to the radio communication window permitted by the logistics of orbital passes of the ISS. During the contact, students interact directly with astronauts and cosmonauts during this communication window using a question and answer format.
To maximize these radio contacts, the ARISS program looks for organizations that will draw large numbers of participants and integrate the radio contact into a well-developed education plan. Because of the nature of human spaceflight and the complexity of scheduling activities aboard the ISS, organizations must demonstrate flexibility to accommodate changes in contact dates and times.
ARISS Proposal Requirements
U.S. education organizations interested in hosting an ARISS scheduled contact will find information about submitting a proposal below.
Educational proposals should include plans for students to:
- study topics related to space technology, space exploration, or space research, and,
- learn about communication, wireless technology, and radio science
The more advance preparation educators make with educational plans, the more learning and value the ARISS event will have for students. Imagine your students interviewing an astronaut in space, maybe even using an antenna your students have assembled!
ARRL’s Education & Technology Program and NASA offer valuable resources to help you and your students learn about wireless technology and satellite communications and space exploration. Go to ARRL’s web page: Preparation for an ARISS Contact for links to those resources.
An ARISS Technical Mentor is assigned to assist educational organizations with technical preparations and logistical coordination of the contact. With the assistance of your ARISS Technical Mentor, ARRL and AMSAT can help you find a local Amateur Radio group to provide equipment and expertise. In some cases, local ham radio club volunteers may also be able to assist with lessons on communication, wireless technology, or radio science.
The Proposal Window
Proposals from schools and organizations in the US are accepted during two proposal windows each year. The Spring 2021 proposal window opens February 15 for contacts to be scheduled from January 1, 2022 – June 30, 2022. This proposal is due to ARISS by March 31, 2021 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time.
The ARISS Proposal Process
Following is the sequence of steps involved in the proposal and selection process.
- Interested organizations in the US should obtain a planning guide with information about expectations and preparations for a proposal.
- Organizations participate in an online Information Session.
- Organizations reach out to local educational partners and local Radio Amateurs to develop and submit a proposal using the current proposal form.
- A committee of representatives from NASA, ARRL and AMSAT evaluate and approve proposals.
- 6 to 8 weeks after the close of the proposal window, organizations with approved proposals are sent a congratulatory email. Declination emails are also sent out at that time. Organizations are given the opportunity to request proposal feedback.
- Selected organizations participate in an ARISS Orientation Session and are paired with an ARISS Technical Mentor who will help them develop an Equipment Plan.
- After the Equipment Plan is approved, the organization initiates their Education Plan and preparations for the contact get underway
If you have questions regarding the proposal process, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming Proposal Webinars
In order to help organizations prepare proposals, the ARISS program offers online Proposal webinars. These webinars are an hour in length and are designed to provide more information regarding US ARISS contacts and the proposal process, as well as provide an avenue for interested organizations to ask questions. Attending an online Proposal webinar is not required but is strongly encouraged.
A Proposal Webinar is being offered in order for you to ask questions about the program and proposal on Thursday, February 25 at 8 pm ET. Visit: https://ariss-proposal-webinar-spring-2021.eventbrite.com to register.
ARISS Proposal Guide
A Proposal Guide is offered to help you plan and identify the resources you will need to host an ARISS scheduled contact.
After reading the Guide and developing your plan, you can complete the ARISS Proposal Form and submit it during the proposal window.
Download the current version of the Proposal Guide (Spring 2021)
ARISS Proposal Form
US schools and educational organizations may download the ARISS Proposal Form to submit a proposal to host an ARISS contact. Use this form to submit the details of your Education and Outreach Plan.
For Additional Information
Contact the ARISS US Program Coordinator to obtain information about Program expectations and proposal guidelines by sending an e-mail to email@example.com
For an overview of the ARISS international program visit www.ariss.org.
Use this form to provide the information needed by the ARISS Operations Team to be assured that you have the equipment in place to successfully support your contact. Submit this completed form to your assigned Technical Mentor as soon as possible, but no later than 3 months after your Education Plan is approved. Download the Equipment Plan Form
Ground Station Recommendations
The recommendations for the ground station to support a scheduled ARISS school contact are considerably more robust than needed for a casual contact with the ISS. Because the scheduled contact is a one-time event involving a large audience every effort is taken to configure a ground station that will offer the maximum communications window possible within the constraints of orbital mechanics and line of sight considerations, and to provide redundancy in the event of unexpected equipment failure. If you are considering supporting an ARISS scheduled contact please review current Ground Station Recommendations.