New Space Station Activity

This from Allen Pitts, W1AGP, ARRL Media & PR Manager, via the PR mailling list:

It was quite an exciting day for ARISS yesterday with the Expedition 18 crew docking and the start up of Richard Garriott’s ham radio activities. Here are some updates and plans for ARISS during Richard’s flight.

Richard, W5KWQ, fired up the radio and started SSTV operations just a couple of hours after docking. Richard planned to support a slide show mode using the SpaceCam software and the SSTV interface box at the beginning of his flight, which is what you saw yesterday. A number of the images were sent down using Martin 1, a higher quality but longer transmit SSTV mode. The Russian team, led by Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, had requested testing several high quality image modes during Richard’s flight, so don’t be surprised if you see Martin 1 or other high resolution SSTV modes during Richard’s flight. We have asked Richard to move to the default Robot 36 mode for the time being and to space out the images once every 3 minutes to reduce the radio transmit duty cycle. Richard confirmed that he will support this. He also has transitioned to the VC-H1 as this will allow Richard to use the computer to support his Earth ops and still support SSTV.

We have had a number of image uploads on the Gallery site by hams all around the world. The ARISS team appreciates your volunteer support through all the SSTV images that have been uploaded. A volunteer ARISS team is working 24/7 during Richard’s flight to review these images, to understand how the SSTV operations is progressing, and to include some of these images on the Gallery pages. ALL the images you have uploaded have been archived and are being reviewed. Please continue to upload these images as they help the ARISS team analyze and redirect the SSTV operations. You are welome to upload these to the gallery page.

We also have a blog available that provides the latest ARISS information for this expedition.

You can also reach these sites through the ARISS website.

Some other information:

  • SSTV uplink/downlink: Richard is really not supporting SSTV uplinks during his short duration mission. The downlink is on the normal ARISS VHF downlink, 145.800.
  • General Voice Contacts: Use the regular general voice frequencies. 145.80 downlink. Uplinks are 144.49 in Region 2 (Americas) and 145.20 for Region 1 (Europe, Africa, Middle East) and Region 3 (Australia, Asia). Richard and Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, have been on the air on voice since shortly after docking yesterday.
  • Sleep Period Activity: We have asked the crew to turn packet on during sleep periods. Our intent is to keep SSTV active during their work day. The rationale for this is that we are having some issues with the software based (SpaceCam) SSTV system occasionally keeping the radio keyed down after an image transmission. And we have a limited set of Russian batteries available during Richard’s flight for the VC-H1.

You are witnessing and are a part of history: Some of you have asked why Richard is using his callsign for some QSOs and SSTV contacts instead of the ISS station callsigns. There is a long and proud history that is attached to the Garriotts. This includes ham radio in space and their personal callsigns. 25 years ago, Richard’s father, Owen Garriott, W5LFL, initiated the first ham radio contacts from space on the STS-9 SAREX mission. Richard, W5KWQ, is following in his father’s footsteps, using the ARISS ham radio system extensively on his first flight. And Richard’s callsign is actually his grandfather’s original callsign. So you can see that this mission touches 3 generations of ham radio and 2 generations of ham radio in space!


  1. My high school Amateur Radio club, K5LBJ, (and a few students from the Radio club at my children’s elementary school) got the chance today to speak with Richard Garriott aboard the ISS. Since Garriott is from Austin, Tx, we managed to arrange a contact from our school on a very short time frame. Local hams provided the equipment, including radios, computer software, antennas and antenna controllers. They also helped me set the system up and worked with my kids to actually learn about the equipment and making satellite contacts 2 weeks before our ISS contact.

    While I was a bit nervous about possible computer failure (computer was controlling antenna tracking/Doppler shift), not a single problem manifested itself during our 10 minute direct contact. Eleven students asked 20 questions of Mr. Garriott during the pass and we had crystal clear audio. We also had Ham Radio Deluxe working with Google Earth to display the view from the ISS. Altogether, an amazing event for our school and the students.

    If hams have the chance to support Amateur Radio in schools, they should jump on it. They will never know the extent of their impact.


    Ronny, KC5EES
    Austin, Texas

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