ARISS, NASA and ESA continue to probe ham radio issues on the ISS

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03/03/2021

Amateur radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International President Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, reports that the ARISS team worked closely with NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to identify what may have caused what ARISS calls a “radio anomaly” on the 27th January. The net result was an inability to use the NA1SS Ham Station equipment in the Columbus ISS Module. For the time being, school and ARISS group contacts with crew members have been conducted using the ISS service module radio station. The radio issues arose following a spacewalk on January 27 in which astronauts installed new cables (mostly power lines) to support commissioning of the capability of payload attached to Bartolomeo mounted on the Columbus module. The job consisted of rerouting the wiring from the ARISS antenna to the ARISS radio system on board Columbus.

“Thanks to good coordination with NASA and ESA, ARISS will conduct a series of APRS [automatic packet radio system] tests to determine the operational use of the ARISS radio system in Columbus through the use of three different wiring configurations, ”Bauer explained this week. “Over the next few days, ARISS will perform a series of tests using our APRS capability via the standard APRS frequency of 145.825 MHz. The team will periodically turn off the radio and swap cables, so that ARISS can troubleshoot the radio system and wiring. Bauer said precise exchange times would depend on crew availability and expected testing to take place on March 3.

“We cannot guarantee that these troubleshooting tests will resolve the radio issue,” Bauer said. “But we are encouraging ARISS APRS operations during this time. “

Bauer said if the tests fail, “an emergency task” was given the green light for a spacewalk (EVA) on March 5. “This EVA task would revert the ARISS wiring to the original configuration prior to the January 27 EVA,” he explained, noting that an emergency task will only be performed if time permits.

Bauer urged APRS users not to send “contactless” emails and social media responses, “as that would overwhelm the ARISS team.”

“But, if you really hear the packet system working or can connect through it, let us know the date, time and grid square of the event,” he said. added.

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