The International Space Station (ISS), presently nearly complete, is permanently manned by crews of astronauts and cosmonauts. Most of them have an amateur radio licence.
Radio Amateur societies from the ISS partner countries, in the USA, Canada, Russia, Europe and Japan, have set up ARISS - Amateur Radio on the International Space Station.
ARISS is a volunteering working group devoted to develop and put into operation the onboard amateur radio station. This station is located in the Russian segment, in the Service Module, the Swesda. It is a multiband and multimode station.
The onboard ARISS station offers a permanent space platform to the worldwide amateur radio community. Several operational modes are automated and used by groundstations without crew care (packet radio, VHF/UHF crossband repeater, SSTV downlink). Cosmonauts and astronauts also use the station to contact groundbound amateur radio stations in their free time.
The Space Agencies have entrusted ARISS with the task to organise ARISS School Contacts. These radio contacts are included by the planners in the astronauts' daily 'timeline'. When a contact is scheduled, volunteering amateur satellite operators set up a ground station in the selected school. During the ten minutes pass of the ISS, an astronaut answers the questions prepared by the students.
When a satellite type ground station cannot be set up in the school, a dedicated volunteering "telebridge" amateur radio station establishes the radio contact with the ISS and signals are relayed to the school per telephone. ARISS counts ten "telebridge" ground stations, located in the USA, Argentina, Europe, Australia, South Africa and Hawaii. The European "telebridge" station ON4ISS is located in Belgium and operated by Philippe Van Houte ON5PV. Whenever possible, the audio of the ARISS School Contacts is distributed, worldwide and real time, by EchoLink and IRLP.
When the downlink signals of an ARISS School Contact are audible in Europe, an ARISS-Europe News Bulletin is circulated to the subscribers of this free mailing list (more than 1.000 subscribers). Subscription facilities are provided on the ARISS-Europe webpage http://www.ariss-eu.org
. See link in upper right corner of the webpage.
Gaston Bertels, ON4WF