the first african in space
the crew

HAM Radio on the International Space Station

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) facilitates HAM radio communications between the station and Earth. It fills many purposes on the station:

  • It is a way for the station crew to maintain contact with family and friends while in orbit;
  • It provides an experimental communications test-bed; and
  • It offers a back-up communications link for emergencies.

The First African in Space Team would like to use HAM Radio link-ups to the ISS to:

  • Reach out to learners as part of the educational outreach initiative;
  • Throw the spotlight on South Africa's amateur radio community; and
  • Disseminate information to the general public.
ARISS is providing The First African in Space team with international bridges, technical expertise, education information and mentorship to help make the radio link-up possible. Without them, we'd be lost. Back in Russia, Mark is studying for a HAM radio certificate so that he can use the HAM radio on the station to communicate with schoolchildren and HAM-radio enthusiasts back on Earth.

Earth to Mark

The team is presently setting up a communications schedule for HAM-radio intercepts between Mark and a number of southern African schools.

This involves identifying locations for the events and, with the help of the South African Deparment of Education and an organisation called SUNSTEP, the schools that will be invited to attend. To smooth the process, learners will be asked to submit questions beforehand. The best questions will then be posed directly to Mark by the learner who came up with the question. The initiative is aimed at learners in Grades 7-9.

There will also be a timeslot available for HAM-radio enthusiasts in South Africa to communicate with Mark.

The First African in Space Amateur Radio Initiative

The Q&A sessions take place in Cape Town, Durban, Gauteng and Khayelitsha. The pupils attending the events are a mixture of Grade 7, 8 & 9. English is the language used in the contacts, although the pupils are a mixture of racial groups. The participating schools were invited to submit 20 best questions proposed by the pupils of the school. The First African in Space Team at Interactive Africa selected a list of 12 questions as the best questions from the invited schools. The 12 pupils who proposed those winning questions will personally talk to Mark in a live radio conversation. The events are broadcast live on a number of local and national radio stations and are live on DSTV. For a transcript of the first Q&A session held at Bishops College on Monday April 29 go to:Bishops Q&A Session.


Conversations through Space

When Mark speaks into the amateur radio on the ISS, a radio signal is sent to earth. This is picked up by an antenna at a ground station and connected to a telephone line. This telephone conversation is sent round the world to the Q&A venues. When we speak back to Mark the signal follows the same path back to the Amateur Radio on the ISS. For your event the ground station may be in one of the following countries; South Africa, Australia or United States of America. This depends which country the international space station is over at the point in time when we talk to him.

Join in with these radio stations:

Cape Town

Cape Community FM (CCFM)
Radio 2000


Lotus FM
Radio 2000
P4 Radio
Highway Radio (recorded)

Radio 2000
Jacaranda FM
YFM (Recorded)

Radio 2000
KFM (Recorded)

Live audio streaming via the web available from

For more information on HAM radio, visit the ARISS website on

Landing Countdown to 05:51 05 May

Landing Complete!

The Team
Mark Shuttleworth
Dale Cupido
Karen Sharwood
Lara Keytel
Danie Barry
Freddy Khan
Vaughan Oosthuizen
Ravi Naidoo
Vuyo Dwane
Richard Mills
Nicolette Cronje
Wayne Derman
Peter Ribton
Hot Links
Frequently Asked Questions
Contact Us
Gallery Highlights

Church of Jesus Christ

Zero-G Heart Rate Data

Next-generation Soyuz TMA Cockpit

Mig-25 Afterburners