A scheduled ARISS contact is a voice-only communication via Amateur Radio between the International Space Station (ISS) crew and classrooms and communities. For more information about ARISS and the U.S. and international program partners, click here. 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.
In the U.S., the NASA Teaching from Space office manages the ARISS proposal and selection process. The ARISS program provides two opportunities each year for educators of all grade levels and types of schools (rural, suburban and urban), as well as youth organizations and museums, to submit a robust educational proposal to host a scheduled contact.
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 open in fall 2013 for contacts to be scheduled during the second half of 2014.
- Interested organizations in the US visit www.nasa.gov/education/tfs/ariss to obtain planning guide and information on how to submit a proposal.
- Organizations participate in a voluntary Information WebEx Session.
- Organizations submit completed proposals to Teaching From Space via the proposal form found at www.nasa.gov/education/tfs/ariss.
- 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. Organizations are given the opportunity to request proposal feedback from a TFS education specialist.
- Selected organizations participate in an ARISS Orientation session hosted by Teaching From Space and initiate their educational plan.
- Selected organizations are paired with ARISS Technical Mentors (this may happen prior to the orientation session), who will oversee the contact logistics.
In order to help organizations prepare proposals, NASA Teaching From Space offers online informational 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 informational session is not required but is strongly encouraged.
Information sessions will be posted when the next proposal cycle opens.
If you have questions regarding the proposal process, please send an email to JSC-TFS-ARISS@mail.nasa.gov.