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ARRL Foundation Grants First-Year Funding for ARISS *STAR* Keith Pugh Initiative


A $47,533 ARRL Foundation grant will fund the initial phase of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISSUSA) *STAR* Keith Pugh Memoriam Project. *STAR*, which stands for Space Telerobotics using Amateur Radio, honors the memory of Keith Pugh, W5IU, a highly respected member of the ARISS team who died in 2019. ARISS arranges live question-and-answer sessions via ham radio between International Space Station (ISS) crew members and students. A long-time and enthusiastic supporter of ARISS, Pugh was a star ARISS technical mentor, assisting schools with ARISS contacts, encouraging interest in ARISS among educators, and visiting schools to teach students about wireless radio technology. One goal of ARISS is to engage students in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) subjects.

The ARISS *STAR* Project, is a new educational initiative that will enable US junior and senior high school groups to remotely control robots via ham radio through digital APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) commands. Year 1 will focus on systems development and initial validation of ARISS *STAR*, and year 2 will focus on evaluation and final validation.

Systems development and evaluation will be led by university staff and students who will undertake hands-on wireless and telerobotics lesson development, learn about amateur radio, and support *STAR* engineering hardware and software development.

Next, youth teams will be selected to experiment and critique *STAR* telerobotics scenarios in closed courses. In the process, ARISS will encourage students to prepare for and earn an FCC amateur radio license, enabling them to use ham radio to learn and practice concepts in radio technology and radio communication.

ARISS-USA Executive Director Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, praised the ARRL Foundation for its generosity. “ARISS team member Keith Pugh, W5IU, poured his energy into inspiring, engaging, and educating youth in space and in amateur radio endeavors,” Bauer said. “What better way to honor Keith than through the ARISS *STAR* initiative. We thank the ARRL Foundation for its vision to move this initiative forward. Maybe someday one of our ARISS *STAR* students will use their telerobotics skills to control scientific rovers on the [m]oon or Mars!”

Over the past 2 decades, more than 1,400 ARISS contacts have connected more than 1 million youth with the ISS using amateur radio, with millions more watching and learning.

The overarching goals for *STAR* are to improve and sustain ARISS STEAM educational outcomes. Robotics is gaining popularity among youth and adults alike, and telerobotics adds a wireless accent to robotic control. This will expand ARISS’s educational dimension to attract the attention of more groups, students, and educators — outreach that promises to attract new audiences.

The ARRL Foundation was established in 1973, to advance the art, science, and social benefits of the Amateur Radio Service by awarding financial grants and scholarships to individuals and organizations that support their charitable, educational, and scientific efforts.

ARISS is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and space agencies that support the ISS. US sponsors include ARRL, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the ISS National LabSpace Station Explorers, and NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program (SCaN). The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics topics. For more information, visit and



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