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ARISS Status Report April 24, 2007

ISS Ham Radio Enthusiasts,

I wanted to provide a progress report on the ISS Ham Radio activities.  And 
to address some questions that have come up related to ARISS operations and 
equipment upgrade and repair.

With the successful Shuttle return to flight, the International Space 
Station Program construction has moved into high gear with delivery and 
assembly of new ISS modules.  If all goes well, the new European Columbus 
Module and Japanese Kibo module will be installed on ISS in the next 12 
months.  This substantial workload on the crew is impacting ARISS 
operations directly.

The launching of any new or replacement radios or computers has been 
significantly curtailed due to the extremely limited upmass 
capability.  There are just too many higher priority activities from an 
international space agency perspective and frankly we are a lower 
priority.  The extra workload on the crew has taken its toll on ARISS - 
they have had very little extra time for Amateur Radio activities beyond 
school contacts.  This is somewhat frustrating to the general ham radio 
community and the ARISS International Team, though the team is pleased that 
the crew has been able to speak so often with youth groups worldwide, 
piquing their interest in Amateur Radio, science, technology, engineering 
and math.

The ARISS team had been hopeful that Charles Simonyi would have been able 
to restore the Kenwood D700 radio system to full functionality after an 
accidental reprogramming of the radio occurred near the end of Exp 13.  The 
ARISS team worked diligently with the Simonyi team to get Charles 
licensed,  trained, and prepared to perform the Kenwood 
reprogramming.  Unfortunately, the ARISS team hit a major hurdle a few 
weeks before Charles' launch.  We learned that additional software 
certification steps were required to allow the reprogramming software to be 
used on the ISS computers.  Through heroic efforts by the team, final 
software certification was successfully completed.  Unfortunately, this was 
completed only a few days before Charles' return from space.  As a result, 
the ARISS team was informed by the mission control team and some of our 
international team partners that it there was insufficient time to allow 
Charles to complete the restoration.  Thus, the Kenwood restoration was not 
completed by Charles.  This last minute hiccup in software certification 
was not predictable.  So there was no way the ARISS team could have better 
prepared for Charles' flight.

At this point in time, it appears that a full restoration will require a 
substantial, concerted effort with full cooperation from our international 
colleagues and the Russian and US space agencies.  We need to make sure 
that all components necessary for a successful reprogramming are 
identified, purchased (if necessary), certified, tested and flown together 
before the radio will be fully restored. Realizing this will be especially 
challenging due to the upmass issue I described above.  This will likely 
take several months to accomplish as the team will have to begin from 
square one. In the short term, requests for some investigative analysis by 
the crew will be made.  This will enable the ARISS team to determine if the 
radio can be partially restored to provide some of the unattended 
operations that it once provided.

With Charles' successful landing, we have started down this new path.  We 
will continue to keep you informed of our progress.

In closing, we are aggressively working this issue, despite several 
setbacks.  While our plans to have Charles reprogram the radio were 
thwarted, we were happy that he could speak to so many hams around the 
world during his short stay.  And capture the imagination of students 
around the globe.

On behalf of the ARISS team, we thank all of you for your interest and 
enthusiasm in Ham Radio on the ISS.

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

Sent via sarex@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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