March 14, 2021—The ARISS Columbus Radio is back on-the-air! This, after it was rendered non-operational following a January 27 EVA (spacewalk) which was conducted to install a cable for the Bartolomeo commercial platform. During the January 27 spacewalk, the Bartolomeo HMU-601 cable, described in the March 10 ARISS Press conference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hm4h4rBE9k&t=2214s), was installed in series with the ARISS antenna cable (HMU-895).
As part of a spacewalk conducted yesterday, March 13, Astronaut Michael Hopkins successfully completed the installation of three PAPOS connectors for the new Bartolomeo platform on the Columbus Module. After this task, Hopkins started the ARISS task. He moved to the opposite side of Columbus, where he removed the HMU-601 cable from the APCU J02 connector and reinstalled the ARISS antenna cable (HMU-895) connector back into the APCU J02 connector. This returned the ARISS system back to its pre-January 27 configuration.
At around 1200 UTC today, the astronauts turned on the ARISS radio system in Columbus. It was placed in PM3, or Packet Mode. PM3 employs a downlink frequency of 145.825 MHz. Shortly after radio startup, APRS signals were heard in California, Utah, and Idaho as the ISS passed along the USA West Coast. ARISS Team member, Christy Hunter, KB6LTY, confirmed she digipeated through the ARISS radio system, NA1SS, during this pass. With confirmation from additional stations in South America and the Middle East, the ARISS team has declared the radio system again operational.
On behalf of the ARISS International Team, our heartfelt thanks to all that helped ARISS work through the cable anomaly investigation, troubleshooting and ultimate repair. Special shout-outs go to the ISS crew, the operations and engineering teams at NASA, ESA and Airbus, and ARISS-Russia leader Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, whose quick actions allowed ARISS to maintain our school contact operations via the ARISS Service Module radio system. Our deepest appreciation also goes out to the ARISS International hardware and operations teams that worked so diligently to analyze, troubleshoot, develop operations procedures, move school contact operations, and inform the team and the public.
The ARISS team would also like to congratulate the ESA/Airbus Bartolomeo team! With the successful installation of 3 of the PAPOS connectors, as part of yesterday’s spacewalk, Bartolomeo is now operational!
Yesterday was a great day for all!
Frank Bauer, KA3HDO
ARISS International Chair
Executive Director, ARISS-USA