ARISS to Swap Out Handheld VHF Transceivers on Space Station
The 10th SpaceX International Space Station cargo resupply mission delivered investigations to study human health, Earth science, and weather patterns last Thursday. It also carried a new Ericsson 2-meter handheld radio to replace one that failed a few months ago, disrupting the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. The VHF radio in the Columbus module was used for school group contacts and for Amateur Radio packet, temporarily relocated to UHF after the VHF radio failure. ARISS International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said the just-arrived Ericsson radio will, at some point, be installed in Columbus, replacing the Ericsson UHF radio now supporting APRS packet and some school contacts. Bauer made it clear that the new Ericsson transceiver is an interim measure for ARISS.
“ARISS is making great progress on the development of the new interoperable radio system that we hope to use to replace our aging radio infrastructure in the Columbus module and the Service module,” he said. “The hard — and expensive — part of this effort is just beginning, with testing and human [spaceflight] certification on the horizon.” ARISS was able to shift school contacts from NA1SS to the Kenwood TM-D710 transceiver in the Russian Service Module. Cosmonauts use that radio to carry out their ARISS school contacts from RS0ISS.
Bauer thanked all of ARISS’s partners, which include ARRL and AMSAT, as well as individuals and entities that have donated to the program. In December, ARISS announced a “notable contribution” from the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) to help support development and certification of new ISS radio hardware.
The Ericsson MP-A VHF handheld that ISS crew members had used to speak via Amateur Radio with students and educational groups around the world for more than 16 years began displaying an error message last fall, rendering it unusable. ARISS has said ARISS’s new JVC Kenwood TM-D710GA-based radio system, once on station and installed, will improve communication capability for students scheduled to participate in educational contacts and related activities. The new system also will allow greater interoperability between the Columbus module and the Russian Service Module.
In 2015, ARISS kicked off its first fundraising program, after having relied on support from NASA, ARRL, AMSAT, and individual donors and volunteers to cover the costs of day-to-day operations and spaceflight equipment certification. NASA budget cutbacks made it less certain that ARISS would be able to cover its operational expenses going forward. ARISS leadership initiated the fundraising effort with the goal of securing greater financial stability. TheARISS website has more information on how to support the program. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service, ARISS