October 2000 marked the beginning of amateur radio as a part of the International Space Station. Operations began with the crew setting up the first ham radio system in the functional cargo block (FGB) portion of the ISS. Several check out passes were conducted during November 2000 and the first school contact was made by Expedition One astronaut Bill Shepherd on December 21, 2000 with the Burbank school in Burbank, Illinois. Since that time, crew members have made numerous school, personal and general contacts with people on every continent.
The ISS has continued to grow in size and capability and so have the amateur radio operations. Several space walks were performed to place antennas on the outside of the Service Module (SM) and additional equipment has been placed inside. This equipment has increased the options available for ham radio operators on the ISS and on the Earth. Future plans call for even more capability and expanded modes of operation.
The current compliment of amateur radios include: Ericsson M-PA VHF radio, Ericsson M-PA UHF radio, Kenwood D-700E radio
Current modes of operation include: Packet/APRS, Voice and SSTV. Typically just one mode is operational at a time.
You might hear the the crew talking when the ISS is overhead by monitoring the standard downlink frequency of 145.80 or Packet bursts on the frequency of 145.825
For additional information on ham radio on the ISS, follow this link: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/reference/radio/.
For current information on the ISS, follow this link: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html.
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