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ARISS contacts General info

Hi all,

I see that Kenneth N5VHO and Tim  W6MU have addressed some of the questions 
about ARISS contacts.  Here is a  bit more.

I post the information as fast as I get it and thus there could  be changes 
that happen rapidly; after all this is real space business and ARISS  is a 
guest.  There have been times when the contact time changed 2 or 3  times in a day 
and I try to always post the latest info.

Please listen in  on the contacts if you are in the footprint.  ARISS uses 
145.800 MHz FM as  the international downlink.  Even a simple scanner can be 
used to hear at  least part of a contact if you are in the footprint.

About 1/3 of the  school contacts are handled via the ARISS Telebridge 
system.  The  Telebridge system allows for schools that may not have the technical 
ability to  handle a direct contact but still be able to have a wonderful 
educational  activity.  It also allows for ARISS to work in conjunction with the 
ISS  crew work schedules, orbital mechanics, etc.  Remember 3 things must happen 
 simultaneously; the crew must be awake and available, the school must be in  
session, and the ISS must be over the ground station.  The ARISS ham radio  
Telebridge ground stations are located in Australia, Hawaii, California, Texas, 
 Maryland, Belgium, and South Africa.  All of these locations have an  
outstanding satellite station equipped with a phone patch.  Verizon  provides for 
the Telebridge hookup; this is truly an international phone hookup  that they 
donate time and personnel for and we at ARISS thank them for their  
contributions.  The participants for a typical Telebridge contact are the  school, the 
ARISS ground station, and an ARISS moderator who acts as net  control.

The remaining contacts are direct; meaning that all of the  equipment is at 
the school.  Think of it as your worst case Field Day  exercise.  It is not 
that difficulty technically, but you are dealing with  anywhere from 500 to 1000 
non-hams who think everything should be perfect.   If you ever get the chance 
to help out or to even be the control op; please do  so as I think you will 
find it pretty rewarding.  I always tell the schools  to plan on 500 to 700 
people hours of prep time; all for 10 minutes of contact  time.  They always think 
I am crazy until after the contact and then it  hits them as to the impact.  

Because we realize that many of you  wish to listen in but may be out of the 
footprint, ARISS tries to have a live  retransmission via IRLP, Echolink, as a 
live audio web stream, or a live video  web stream.  All Telebridge contacts 
will be able to be on the web courtesy  of Verizon and their webservices.  
ARISS volunteers then pick up that audio  stream and put it on Echolink and IRLP. 
 If the contact is a direct one,  then ARISS works with the school to 
determine if a retransmission is possible  via IRLP, Echolink, or the web.  In any 
case, as soon as I know whether the  contact is going to be retransmitted, I 
post that information.  There have  been times when a school decided at the last 
minute to do a live retransmission,  so I suggest you check the ARISS 
announcements right before a contact to get the  most up to date info.

If you have not done an ARISS contact, consider  finding a school, 
volunteering, getting the application in, and doing one.   I have been the control op 
for 4 and a mentor for almost 30 and each has been a  blast.  The present wait 
time is between 1.5 and 2.5 years.

The  schedule page has been updated as of 2006-11-10 19:00 UTC.  Here you 
will  find a listing of all scheduled school contacts and questions, other ISS 
related  websites, IRLP and Echolink websites, and instructions for any contact 
that may  be streamed live.  

There are several  ARISS web sites:

English:  http://www.rac.ca/ariss/   

French:  http://c.avmdti.free.fr/ariss/index.htm   

ARISS Europe:  http://www.ariss-eu.org/   

ARISS Japan:  http://www.jarl.or.jp/ariss/  

I  have also seen comments along the way about what ARISS can and cannot do 
as far  as scheduling.  As a school works it way through the scheduling 
process, it  eventually gets to be about 6 months out from a contact date and an 
ARISS mentor  is assigned.  So the really hard work may go for about 6 months; 
serious  business where ARISS works with the ISS planners and the school to get a 
date  and for the school to be prepared.  But we are only guests and we can 
only  put in our requests for contact times; we can never demand.  Sometimes we 
 get our desired times; sometimes it is back to the drawing board.  So once  
again, check for my postings as well as info from the other ARISS mentors for  
the very latest schedule.

I hope this helps explain a bit more on how  ARISS works to provide a truly 
out of this world educational  experience.

Charlie Sufana AJ9N
One of the ARISS Mentors  

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