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ARISS--NASA and Amateur Radio



All,

You have asked for answers to many questions relative to ARISS and I hope 
to cover these.  I originally started to generate a single e-mail to cover 
the many questions you have, but the e-mail was getting too large and 
covered too many topics.  Instead, I have broken this up into several 
e-mails on several subjects.  I will send these out separately over the 
course of a few days.  I hope these e-mails will provide additional insight 
into this matter.

Let me first apologize for not sending something out sooner.  I only get 
the bb in digest form (once a day).  Also, I just got back from spending 10 
days in Houston, supporting a very critical ARISS meeting between the US 
and Russian teams---away from my family and my job.  Needless to say I am 
still very overwhelmed with a backlog at work and at home.

In addition, I still need to get the word out to you and to the ARISS 
International partners on the tremendous success we had in Houston.  For 
example, the US and Russian ARISS teams have generated a 42 page "protocol" 
(or agreement) on our current (Phase 2 and SSTV) hardware 
developments.  This includes equipment upload flights to the ISS, crew 
training and school group contacts.  These agreements were negotiated with 
the Russian team and the 42 page protocol was written exclusively by YOUR 
team of AMSAT volunteers.  These agreements have now been signed  by the 
AMSAT-NA/ARISS-US representative (me) by the AMSAT-Russia/ARISS-Russia 
representative (Sergej Samburov, RV3DR), and by NASA.  Sergej is in the 
process of getting these agreements signed by the Russian Energia 
organization now that he is back in Russia.

Now, to your questions:

NASA and Amateur Radio---who really wants amateur radio on ISS

Let me start with NASA and amateur radio on human spaceflight 
vehicles.  The real answer on whether ARISS was NASA- derived or ham 
radio-derived is easy.  It was the HAMS that pushed this.  Particularly the 
early ham astronauts.  NASA really didn't want this at first.  They didn't 
understand the benefits and didn't understand how a bunch of volunteers 
could adequately certify equipment for flight.  Owen Garriott, W5LFL tried 
to fly amateur radio on Skylab--America's first space station--and was 
rejected by NASA.  He was more successful on the shuttle program....making 
hundreds of QSOs on the STS-9 space shuttle Columbia mission in 1983.  Owen 
and astronaut Tony England, W0ORE saw the educational benefits that amateur 
radio in human spaceflight vehicles could provide.  These two, plus Ron 
Parise, WA4SIR, and Ken Cameron, KB5AWP, were the primary initial sparks in 
the US that brought amateur radio on board.  They were the pathfinders to 
the current school contacts.  Later, astronaut Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL, was 
key in ensuring that the current station was on-board ISS.

Today, hams still have to push very hard within the NASA (and international 
space agency) system to educate people of the benefits and positive uses of 
amateur radio on ISS.  NASA is not clamoring at our door to make ARISS 
happen.  Yes, NASA does get educational value from the ARISS contacts.  Yes 
they are funding our activities.  Those within NASA that have witnessed an 
ARISS contact are totally convinced that amateur radio is a different, 
exciting way to spark student's interest in science and technology.  But we 
(the ham radio community---ARRL and AMSAT in the US) are coming to 
them...not the other way around.

Amateur radio is a pioneering technology.  We actually showed NASA the 
tremendous positive benefits of doing Q&A interviews between school 
children and the astronauts on-board the Space Shuttle.  They followed our 
lead and are now doing some student/astronaut interviews using non-ham 
techniques (through TDRS).  If they are doing these educational events why 
do they continue to support ARISS?  Because they see that students learn 
more by not getting everything handed to them.  They see the hands-on value 
of students helping setting up a radio station in their school.  They see 
the educational benefits of hams teaching students to track amateur radio 
satellites, including ISS.  They see the benefits of the students pointing 
the antennas at the ISS.  You learn much more by DOING than by witnessing.

What is NASA's priority on ARISS--Education or Spaceflight Awareness?

The NASA funding we get is from NASA's education office.  NASA sees ARISS 
as an educational payload.  NASA and the international space agencies also 
see ARISS as an emergency communications backup capability and and aspect 
of human spaceflight awareness.  But education is the prime directive in 
NASA's mind.

More will follow.  Stay tuned.

73,  Frank Bauer, KA3HDO
AMSAT-NA V.P. for Human Spaceflight Programs
ARISS International Chairman

----
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