Two Astronauts Get Their Ham Ticket
Even though they aren’t scheduled to go to the International Space Station (ISS) until 2013, two astronauts -- Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano -- are now licensed amateurs. Cassidy, who received the call sign KF5KDR, is scheduled to head to the ISS in March 2013 as part of Expedition 35. Parmitano, who is KF5KDP, goes up three months later in May, as part of Expedition 36.
“Our aim is to have at least one crew member licensed and trained in on-air protocol, who is somewhat excited about ham radio and the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program (ARISS), per expedition,” explained ARRL ARISS Program Manager Rosalie White, K1STO. NASA ISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, told the ARRL that both Cassidy and Parmitano are “excited and interested in the educational aspects of Amateur Radio on board the ISS.”
Currently, there are three Russian cosmonauts, two US astronauts -- Ronald Garan, KF5GPO, and Catherine Coleman, KC5ZTH -- and one Italian astronaut on board the ISS as part of Expedition 28. Alexander Kaleri, U8MIR, and Oleg Skripochka, RN3FU are Russian; Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA, is from Italy. In June 2011, a new crew -- Expedition 29 -- reports to the ISS: Michael Fossum, KF5AQG; Sergei Volkov, RU3DIS, and Satoshi Furukawa, KE5DAW. This crew will join Coleman, Nespoli and Dimitri Kondratyev. According to the ISS schedule, at least three hams will be on board the ISS at the same time through the end of 2012.
Ransom told the ARRL that he is especially excited for Expedition 29 launch. “Mike Fossum is a Scoutmaster with a Boy Scout troop here in Houston,” he said. “We are hoping that he will be active making Amateur Radio contacts with Scouts all around the world while on the ISS. The World Scout Jamboree is in Sweden this year in July and August, and Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is near the end of his mission. Hopefully, he will be available for both events, giving Scouts an exciting QSO from space.”