Astronaut Tim Peake, KG5BVI, to Host First ARISS Video Contact


European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake, KG5BVI, who just arrived onboard the International Space Station, will be the first ISS crew member to use the HamTV digital Amateur Radio TV (DATV) system during an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact. Peake, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, KE5UDN, and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, launched on December 15 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and arrived at the ISS about 6 hours later.

The UK ARISS team is assembling a mobile Earth station, to be installed at the school on the day of the contact. The team recently visited Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall to commission a dish to receive the 2.4 GHz HamTV DATV transmissions from the ISS. The ARISS activities have been designed to maximize the impact of Peake’s “Principia Mission” outreach by directly engaging students with communication technologies and inspiring them to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

“Both Tim’s space mission and Amateur Radio have the power to inspire young people and encourage them into STEM subjects,” said Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education at the UK Space Agency. “By bringing them together we can boost their reach and give young people around the UK the chance to be involved in a space mission and a hands-on project that will teach them new skills.”

During the contacts the ARISS team will be providing information displays on the ISS position and have webcams showing both the local and Goonhilly dishes as they track the ISS. The hosting schools will be organizing presentations and displays before and after the contact and the ARISS team will be providing a live web cast of all the day’s events including the actual contact with Tim Peake.

Working with the UK Space Agency, ARISS is giving a number of UK schools the opportunity to speak directly with Peake, the first British ESA astronaut, during his Principia STEM outreach program. During his 6 months in space, Peake will undertake a wide range of science experiments, some of which have been designed by students from around the UK. In addition, he has committed to take part in a large range of educational outreach activities with schools and colleges around the country.

The 3.8 meter dish owned by Satellite Applications Catapult is being loaned to the project to track the ISS and will ensure real-time video will be available during the schools’ contacts early next year. The British Amateur Television Club (BATC) will stream live video during Principia events.

The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) is supporting Peake’s initiative and will work with the selected schools, offering a range of support that includes technical workshops.

“We are delighted that Amateur Radio will be used in this historic mission, bringing pupils in direct contact with Tim on the ISS,” said RSGB President John Gould, G3WKL. “The Society is dedicated to the development of the science and practice of Amateur Radio and using that to encourage more young people to enter STEM-related careers through an enjoyment of this wide-ranging hobby.” — Thanks to AMSAT, ARISS, and RSGB