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Amateur Radio Digital Communications Announces Grant to ARISS


[UPDATED: 2019-09-17 @ 1450 UTC to provide additional detail and clarity.] Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) has announced what’s being called “a very generous grant” to Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) to help fund its next-generation Interoperable Radio System (IORS) and associated infrastructure improvements and enhancements. ARISS said the IORS will replace the aging amateur stations on the ISS to ensure the continuation of its primary program that lets students speak to ISS crew members via Amateur Radio. ARDC said it believes ARISS helps to engage students with Amateur Radio and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in general “by providing exciting capabilities that don’t exist” on cell phones or the internet. A dollar figure was not made public.

“This was fantastic news!” said ARISS International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, who expressed appreciation for ARDC’s generosity. Bauer said the ARDC gift would go a long way toward covering the considerable cost of making the IORS a reality.

ARISS said its next-generation IORS will “enable new, exciting capabilities for hams, students, and the general public.” It also plans additional enhancements, which would include:

New Amateur Radio communication and experimentation capabilities, including an enhanced voice repeater and updated digital packet radio

+ APRS capability

+ Two-way slow-scan television (SSTV) in both the US and Russian ISS segments

+ HamTV-2

+ A new multi-voltage power supply that will support present and future Amateur Radio capabilities and enable wireless experimentation

The ARISS International team has already begun planning for an Amateur Radio role for NASA’s Lunar Gateway initiative. Some ARDC board members have expressed an interest in ARISS’s future plans involving the Lunar Gateway program, ARISS said.

In late July, ARDC announced the sale of some 4 million consecutive AMPRNet internet addresses to establish a program of grants and scholarships program in support of communications and networking research with a strong emphasis on Amateur Radio. ARDC, which manages AMPRNet, said it planned to provide monetary grants to organizations, groups, projects, and scholarships that have significant potential to advance the state of the art of Amateur Radio and of digital communications.

ARISS pointed out that it will build 10 next-generation radio systems to provide interoperability in any ISS module. Two systems will be installed on the ISS, two will serve as flight backups, and one will undergo flight certification testing. The remaining systems will be used for training astronauts and cosmonauts and for the engineering team to conduct further station-enhancement development and firmware tests.

ARISS said the IORS successfully completed a battery of rigorous testing that NASA requires as part of final pre-launch and operation hardware certification. Final flight safety certification in preparation for launch is now under way, and ARISS hopes to have the IORS ready to send to the station by year’s end.

The donation to ARISS is the first since ARDC announced its grant program earlier this summer. ARISS invites contributions via its website.



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