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:
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.
- 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.
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 Community FM (CCFM)
Highway Radio (recorded)
Live audio streaming via the web available from www.MSNBC.com
For more information on HAM radio, visit the ARISS website on