[amsat-bb] Re: ISS a Satellite or an airplane?

Ransom, Kenneth G. (JSC-OC)[BAR] kenneth.g.ransom at nasa.gov
Sat Sep 15 11:11:30 PDT 2007

We have this sort of discussion every year before field day. ARRL permits contacts VIA the ISS for credit as a satellite but does not count contacts TO the ISS crew for credit (though many are made just for fun).
Since the ISS is a unique situation (currently being the only manned satellite with amateur radio gear), the ARRL has some conflicting rules to deal with. It is a satellite so contacts via it should be legitimate. It is a manned craft not in contact with the Earth so it does not count for contacts just like an aeronautical mobile contact does not count.
I personally do not think having the ISS declared a DXCC entity is a good idea. The crew would be overwhelmed when on and the ISS is not a permanent installation.
On the other hand, what do you think the ARRL will do with manned amateur radio locations on the moon?
Kenneth - N5VHO


From: amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org on behalf of John P. Toscano
Sent: Sat 9/15/2007 5:01 AM
Cc: fieldops at amsat.org; amsat-bb at amsat.org
Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: ISS a Satellite or an airplane?

Eric Christensen wrote:
> Can someone sanity check me, please?  I'm trying to convince a guy at the ARRL that the ISS needs to be added to the LoTW as a satellite and he says it is not valid because it isn't a satellite but rather an airplane.
> Anyone out there help me with this? 
> 73s,
> Eric W4OTN

Perhaps they are thinking of the ISS only in the mode where an astronaut
talks to an earth station in split simplex mode.

For the purposes of a satellite QSO, they are most likely allow only the
situation where two earth stations talk to one another, using a
transponder of some sort that is in orbit. You're not talking TO the
satellite, you're talking THROUGH the satellite to another earth station.

I believe that the ISS radio(s) can be (but only rarely are) configured
as a cross-band repeater, in which case two earth stations WOULD be able
to talk to one another THROUGH the orbiting ISS satellite. If this is
the case, it should probably be added to LOTW, since it's just like any
other satellite transponder (except that it can be fixed in orbit if it
breaks!) If this is done, however, clear instructions would need to be
promulgated to point out that it is only valid in transponder mode for a
satellite QSO.

OTOH, when the astronauts in their space station are talking with a
ground station, that should be valid for a (non-satellite) QSO. One
problem becomes "what is the location of the (non-earth station)?"
Should ISS be a "location", albeit a moving target?  I don't think it's
too easy for an astronaut to give you a Maidenhead Grid Square of their
location, but I guess that depends on how well a GPS works at that
altitude and speed inside all that metal.  But people in the VHF & up
contesting community talk about "high-speed roving", and the ISS is the
ultimate high-speed rover! But there's another important issue here.
Although it is crystal clear (to me, at least) that the ISS is not an
airplane (heck, there's no AIR up there!), it behaves in many respects
like an aeronautical mobile station, and those are excluded from most
contests. So communication between an earth station and a space station
seems to be legitimately excluded from most contests and awards.  It
would still be nice to have the QSL card in your collection.

73 de WØJT
AMSAT-NA Life Member #2292
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