January 5, 2022
ARISS‐USA is known for engaging students in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) subjects by arranging live question-and-answer sessions via amateur radio (ham radio) between K‐12 students and astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). In the last two decades, over 1,400 contacts have connected more than one million youth using amateur radio, with millions more watching and learning. ARISS is constantly pursuing educational opportunities that inspire student interest and outcomes.
ARISS-USA is pleased to announce that the ARRL Foundation awarded funding for the first year of a two-year project called the “ARISS *STAR* Keith Pugh Memoriam Project” with *STAR* being the acronym for Space Telerobotics using Amateur Radio. The ARRL Foundation very generously provided $47,533. The project honors the memory of highly-respected Keith Pugh, whose call sign was W5IU (Silent Key, May 2019). He was an expert supporter of ARISS for many years, a star ARISS Technical Mentor assisting schools with their ARISS contacts, finding educators who might be interested in learning about ARISS, and going to schools to lead youth in a variety of lessons about wireless radio technology.
ARISS *STAR* (short for ARISS *STAR* Keith Pugh Memoriam Project), is a brand-new education program that will enable US junior high and high school education groups to remotely control robots through digital APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) commands using amateur radio. Year 1 focuses on systems development and initial validation of *ARISS* STAR, and Year 2 focuses on evaluation and final validation. Systems development and evaluation will be led by university staff and students who will undertake hands-on-wireless and telerobotics lesson development, learn about Amateur Radio, and support the development of the *STAR* engineering hardware and software. Next, youth teams will be selected to experiment and critique *STAR* telerobotics scenarios along closed courses and radio lessons. Some participating students will want to prepare for, and earn, their amateur radio licenses, using ham radio to learn and practice concepts in radio technology and radio communications.
Overarching goals for *STAR* are to improve and sustain ARISS STEAM educational outcomes with youth. Robotics is gaining popularity among youth and adults alike. Telerobotics adds a wireless accent to robotic control. *STAR*, therefore, gives ARISS a new educational dimension to attract the attention of more education groups and their students and educators—outreach that promises to attract new audiences.
The ARRL Foundation was established in 1973 by ARRL, The National Association for Amateur Radio ®, and advances the art, science and societal benefits of the Amateur Radio Service by awarding financial grants and scholarships to individuals and organizations in support of their charitable, educational and scientific efforts. ARISS-USA Executive Director Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, praised the ARRL Foundation, saying, “ARISS team member, Keith Pugh, W5IU, poured his energy into inspiring, engaging and educating youth in space and in amateur radio endeavors. What a better way to honor Keith than through the ARISS *STAR* initiative. We thank the ARRL Foundation for their vision to move this initiative forward. Maybe someday one of our ARISS *STAR* students will use their telerobotics skills to control scientific rovers on the Moon or Mars!”
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the International Space Station (ISS). In the United States, sponsors are the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the ISS National Lab‐Space Station Explorers, and NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program (NASA SCaN). The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics topics. ARISS does this by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students. Before and during these radio contacts, students, educators, parents, and communities take part in hands‐on learning activities tied to space, space technologies, and amateur radio. For more information, see www.ariss-usa.org, www.ariss.org.