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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS004 (2021)

ARLS004 ARISS Ham Station in Columbus Module Is Once Again

QST de W1AW  
Space Bulletin 004  ARLS004
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington, CT  March 17, 2021
To all radio amateurs

ARLS004 ARISS Ham Station in Columbus Module Is Once Again

Some 6 weeks after going silent following a spacewalk that installed
new antenna cabling, the Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station (ARISS) ham station in the Columbus module is once again
operational. The Columbus station, which typically uses the callsign
NA1SS, is the primary ARISS amateur radio station used for school
contacts and other activities. A January 27 spacewalk replaced a
coax feed line installed 11 years ago with another built by the
European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus.

While the specific cause of the problem has not yet been determined,
a March 13 spacewalk that restored the antenna cabling to its
original configuration provided the cure. The plan to return the
ARISS cabling to its original configuration had been a "contingency
task" for a March 5 spacewalk, but the astronauts ran out of time.
The ARISS work was appended to the to-do list for astronauts Mike
Hopkins, KF5LJG, and Victor Glover, KI5BKC, to complete a week

"On behalf of the ARISS International Team, our heartfelt thanks to
all who helped ARISS work through the cable anomaly investigation,
troubleshooting, and ultimate repair," ARISS International Chair
Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said. Bauer praised NASA, the ESA, Airbus, and
ARISS-Russia lead Sergey Samburov, RV3DR. While the Columbus ham
station was off the air, ARISS school and group contacts were able
to continue using the ham station in the ISS Service Module on the
Russian side of the station.

During the weekend spacewalk, Hopkins swapped out a cable for the
Bartolomeo commercial payload-handling platform that had been
installed in series with the ARISS VHF-UHF antenna feed line,
returning the ARISS system to its pre-January 27 configuration.
Hopkins raised a question concerning a sharp bend in the cable near
a connector, but no further adjustments were possible.

On March 14, ARISS was able to confirm the operation's success when
Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) signals on 145.825 MHz were
heard in California, Utah, and Idaho as the ISS passed overhead.
ARISS team member Christy Hunter, KB6LTY, was able to digipeat
through NA1SS during the pass. With additional confirmation from
stations in South America and the Middle East, ARISS declared the
radio system operational again.

Work during the March 13 spacewalk also made Bartolomeo operational.
"Yesterday was a great day for all!" Bauer exulted. "Ad astra!"


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