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Re: ISS a Satellite or an airplane?



Eric Christensen wrote:
> Can someone sanity check me, please?  I'm trying to convince a guy at the ARRL that the ISS needs to be added to the LoTW as a satellite and he says it is not valid because it isn't a satellite but rather an airplane. 
> 
> Anyone out there help me with this?  
> 
> 73s,
> Eric W4OTN

Perhaps they are thinking of the ISS only in the mode where an astronaut 
talks to an earth station in split simplex mode.

For the purposes of a satellite QSO, they are most likely allow only the 
situation where two earth stations talk to one another, using a 
transponder of some sort that is in orbit. You're not talking TO the 
satellite, you're talking THROUGH the satellite to another earth station.

I believe that the ISS radio(s) can be (but only rarely are) configured 
as a cross-band repeater, in which case two earth stations WOULD be able 
to talk to one another THROUGH the orbiting ISS satellite. If this is 
the case, it should probably be added to LOTW, since it's just like any 
other satellite transponder (except that it can be fixed in orbit if it 
breaks!) If this is done, however, clear instructions would need to be 
promulgated to point out that it is only valid in transponder mode for a 
satellite QSO.

OTOH, when the astronauts in their space station are talking with a 
ground station, that should be valid for a (non-satellite) QSO. One 
problem becomes "what is the location of the (non-earth station)?" 
Should ISS be a "location", albeit a moving target?  I don't think it's 
too easy for an astronaut to give you a Maidenhead Grid Square of their 
location, but I guess that depends on how well a GPS works at that 
altitude and speed inside all that metal.  But people in the VHF & up 
contesting community talk about "high-speed roving", and the ISS is the 
ultimate high-speed rover! But there's another important issue here. 
Although it is crystal clear (to me, at least) that the ISS is not an 
airplane (heck, there's no AIR up there!), it behaves in many respects 
like an aeronautical mobile station, and those are excluded from most 
contests. So communication between an earth station and a space station 
seems to be legitimately excluded from most contests and awards.  It 
would still be nice to have the QSL card in your collection.

73 de WØJT
AMSAT-NA Life Member #2292
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