Secure Site Login


ARISS to Attempt Second Test of New Multipoint Telebridge Contact System


Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is hoping to refine its new Multipoint Telebridge Contact via Amateur Radio system for handling scheduled ham radio contacts between International Space Station crew members and schools or organizations on Earth. On May 15 at 1510 UTC, it will conduct a second test of the new protocol by connecting students in Alberta, Canada, with an astronaut on the ISS.

The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated conventional opportunities for ARISS contacts that typically involved large numbers of students and faculty gathering at a school or educational institution for the event. The ARISS multipoint telebridge system works around the issue by employing distance learning within distance learning, as many schools around the world have gone over to conducting classes remotely via teleconferencing, and students are physically separated.

Under the multipoint telebridge concept, an amateur station in the footprint of a space station pass at the time a contact has been scheduled serves as an Earth station, making direct contact with NA1SS onboard the ISS. A telebridge network then delivers two-way audio from the Earth station to each student taking part in the contact. For the May 15 contact, John Sygo, ZS6JON, near Johannesburg, South Africa, will operate the Earth station.

The students’ families, faculty members, and even members of the public will be able to listen in as each student at Airdrie Space Science Club in Alberta — a youth model rocket building and astronomy club — takes a turn asking a question of astronaut Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR. One question on the list: “How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you while you are in space?”

Brian Jackson, VE6JBJ, is a club leader. “During this pandemic, our opportunities to develop kids’ interest in space have been interrupted,” Jackson said. “This ARISS contact gets them looking back up, towards the sky, and imagining themselves as an astronaut one day.”

Members of the public may view a livestream of the contact via YouTube.

ARISS is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies, including ARRL and AMSAT in the US, and space agencies around the world that support the International Space Station.