[sarex] Re: The ISS and you.

Eric van de Weyer eric at van-de-weyer.org
Tue Aug 18 04:57:55 PDT 2009

HI Tony,

Thanks for the voice of reason amongst so many knockers.  Unfortunately Ham
radio is not devoid of them and some people just don't think about the big

As you know, (and thanks to you and Paul and others who assisted) the
Waverley Amateur Radio Society was able to arrange, at very short notice
(and much to my surprise and joy) a special contact with the ISS during the
week that we had our commemorative callsign to celebrate the clubs 90th
anniversary. Not only that but, when we had problems on the first attempt,
due to an antenna connection problem at our end, Mike Finke, himself,
offered to have another try on a later pass to try to make an improved
contact with us, which did happen and was totally successful.

We considered ourselves extremely lucky, and privileged, to have been given
not just the one but two chances to succeed and it was a highlight of our

The fact that he was prepared to give up his leisure time, which would be
very precious, to make these contacts was really appreciated by all of us
here on the ground and it upsets me when some people complain that they are
not getting enough cooperation from the ISS to make contacts with them. 

Those guys are up there doing a great job and, if some of them are willing
to have the occasional random contact with us here on the ground then that
is a bonus. Most of us do realize that many of them only get their Amateur
licences so that they can undertake the school contacts and are not
interested in using the gear apart from then, it is just a vocal minority
who complain. When there is the occasional crew member, or visitor, who is a
dedicated Amateur, who wants to make more regular contacts with us on the
ground because it is his interest in the hobby, then we all benefit

I have had a number of contacts over the years with shuttle missions and MIR
(I haven't had a personal one with the ISS yet) but I don't need to
constantly be talking to them, there are many people who haven't had the
opportunity so I would rather leave it for them to have a go. 

Anyhow, Tony, thanks for all the time you have put in over many years and
all the best for the future.

73....Eric VK2VE.

-----Original Message-----
From: sarex-bounces at AMSAT.Org [mailto:sarex-bounces at AMSAT.Org] On Behalf Of
Tony, VK5ZAI
Sent: Tuesday, 18 August 2009 13:04
To: sarex at AMSAT.Org
Subject: [sarex] The ISS and you.

I think everyone should remember that it is the "International Space 
Station" and NOT the "International AMATEUR (HAM) Space Station". As it 
was on Mir it's a privilege that we have ham radio gear on board the 
ISS. The majority of crews that have flown have been very active with  
the ARISS  educational  linkups that we've had, encouraging  students  
to  explore the fields of ham radio, science, and  similar activities. 
Perhaps there are some that should think about the education of our 
future generation rather than just themselves.

Unfortunately some folk never seem to be happy unless they get exactly 
what they want when they want it. The crews on the ISS are not under any 
obligation to use the ham gear if they choose not to. They are employed 
like most of us and are expected to do their days work, and are not paid 
for playing ham radio. Since year 2000 we have had random voice 
contacts, Packet, SSTV, X-band repeater, over 450 school contacts and 
Suit-Sat with another launch expected next year. That's not a bad effort.

A lot may not know, to get ham or any other equipment approved for 
flight on the ISS it must be type tested. This is a lengthy and tedious  
process that can't be achieved  overnight. Lou and the engineering team 
with ARISS have done a great job and knowing what I do, I fail to see 
how they can be criticized.

I first became involved with manned space flight in 1992 and have been 
involved ever since so I feel I have a right to comment. I have done 
many more "scheduled" telebridge linkups with Mir and the ISS than I've 
had personal QSO's with the crews over the years.

ARISS is a great team to work with, but it's many hours of hard work 
scheduling school contacts, it means many hours of paper work, 
scheduling one's own social life around ARISS commitments and being 
called up in the middle of the night to handle a telebridge contact for 
a school on the other side of the world. Above all it means 100% 
reliability. I can assure all, there is very little personal ham radio 
involved. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, if I didn't have the 
time (retired now) or enjoy the work I'm doing I wouldn't do it.

I see a big difference between Mir and the ISS , Mir had a crew of 
generally 2 sometimes 3 and construction was completed by the time I 
became involved. The ISS is still being built meaning a lot of extra 
work for the crews.

The way I see it is that with only one other person to talk with in 6 
months (as on Mir) it would be nice to have ham radio to make other 
contacts, but with 5 or 6 people on board, as on the ISS now to share 
your conversation with the desire to use  ham radio wouldn't be as 
great. To add to this the ISS now has an IP phone on board that can link 
the crew back to earth any time or place so they can have a personal 
chat to their friends. I don't believe this facility was available on 
Mir and was not available on the ISS for the first couple of years.

Because of this changing situation I would think that only those with an 
interest in radio would feel compelled to make random QSO's now they 
have more on board to socialize with during their leisure time. I hope 
I'm wrong, but put yourself in the same situation!

(1) Not everyone likes ham radio, most astronauts obtain their ham 
license shortly before they fly as a backup means of communications.
(2) They don't get paid for ham radio activities so surely they have the 
right choice for themselves when and where they wish to use it.
(3) Despite all crew members being highly trained in their field of 
work, they are not necessarily  conversant with  the ham radio on board  
and not be  capable  of changing to the various modes that we would like 
at times.
(4) Be thankful that we have radio on board at all.

Finally I would like to congratulate Frank on his past leadership, and 
all the hours  many others  put into ARISS to make it the success it is. 
I don't feel anyone can justify knocking the work that ARISS has done.

Regards Tony.  VK5ZAI

P.O.Box 470 Kingston SE 
South Australia  5275

National ARISS Co-ordinator
and Satellite Earth Station.

Web Site :- 
Also click on :- 

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