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Three Radio Amateurs on the ISS Head Home on June 18


Three radio amateurs onboard the International Space Station (ISS) will depart the orbiting outpost at the end of the week. Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra, KE5UDN; Flight Engineer Tim Peake, KG5BVI/GB1SS, and Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, will undock from the space station early on Saturday morning, July 18 (the evening of Friday, July 17, in US time zones) in a Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft commanded by Malenchenko, after spending 186 days in space since their December launch. NASA Television will provide coverage starting on June 17.

When the Soyuz undocks, ISS Expedition 48 will begin under the command of Jeff Williams, KD5TVQ. Williams and crewmates Oleg Skripochka, RN3FU, and Alexey Ovchinin will operate the station for 3 weeks until the arrival of the next crew increment. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, KG5FYJ; Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, and Takuya Onishi, KF5LKS, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are scheduled to launch on July 6 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

During their stay, Kopra and Peake scored some milestones for the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. On March 10, Kopra conducted the 1000th ARISS school group contact with students in North Dakota. The first contact occurred in December of 2000. Peake made use of Amateur Radio in his “Principia Mission” outreach, which aimed to directly engage students with communication technologies, inspiring them to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. During his stay in space, Peake hosted 10 ARISS school group contacts, including the first to take advantage of the HamTV digital Amateur Radio television (DATV) system when he spoke with students on February 11 at a school in Rickmansworth, England. The DATV system in the Columbus module of the ISS allowed students at Royal Masonic School, home of GB1RSM, to see as well as listen, as Peake, operating as GB1SS, answered their questions about life in space.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft now attached to the ISS will be released from the Unity module on June 14. Peake and Kopra will be at the controls of the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it releases Cygnus, which will orbit Earth for 8 more days of scientific tests exploring how materials burn in space and the orbital dynamics of a destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.    



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