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.
U.S. education organizations interested in hosting an ARISS communication can contact NASA's Teaching from Space Office for proposal information. (More information about the proposal process is provided below). International schools should submit applications following instructions provided on the ARISS Program website.
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 education groups whose proposals are selected for an ARISS contact to help with technical coordination of the contact. With the assistance of your ARISS Technical Mentor, ARRL and AMSAT will help you find a local Amateur Radio group to provide the 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.
Submitting a Proposal
Proposals from schools and organizations in the US are accepted during two proposal windows each year. The next proposal window will be announced soon.
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 submit completed proposals using the current proposal form.
- A committee of representatives from NASA, ARRL and AMSAT evaluate and select proposals.
- Approximately one month after the close of the proposal window, selected organizations 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 initiate their education plan.
- Selected organizations are paired with an ARISS Technical Mentor who will oversee the contact logistics.
If you have questions regarding the proposal process, please send an email to email@example.com.
In order to help organizations prepare proposals, the ARISS Program Coordinator offers online Information Sessions. These sessions 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 Information Session is not required but is strongly encouraged.
Information Sessions will be posted when the next proposal cycle opens.