International Space Station Ham Radio (ISS Ham Radio) - 08.05.14

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery
ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Since the earliest space station expeditions, ISS Ham Radio has allowed groups of students in schools, camps, museums and planetariums to hold a conversation with the people living in space. As the International Space Station (ISS) passes overhead, students have between 5 and 8 minutes to ask crewmembers 10 to 20 questions.

Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

This content was provided by Kenneth Ransom, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

  • Kenneth Ransom, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Gaston Bertels, ARISS-International Working Group, Brussels, Belgium
  • Mark Steiner, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
  • Mark T. Severance, M.S., SciStarter, Columbia, MD, United States

  • Developer(s)
    Amateur Radio on ISS (ARISS) International Working Group, Brussells, , Belgium

    Johnson Space Center, Office of Education, Houston, TX, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    NASA Education (EDU)

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    September 2010 - March 2015

    Expeditions Assigned

    Previous ISS Missions
    Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), the precursor to ISS Ham Radio, has been conducted on the ISS since Expedition 1 following the delivery of the ham radio to the ISS.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • In preparation for International Space Station Ham Radio (ISS Ham Radio), students research the ISS and learn about radio waves, ham (amateur) radio and related topics. Before their scheduled contact with the ISS, students prepare a list of questions on topics they have researched, many of which have to do with career choices and science activities aboard the ISS. Depending on the amount of time and complexity of the questions, from 10 to 20 questions are asked during one of the sessions.

    • As the ISS passes over a school or another location that receives a signal from the ISS, there is typically a 5- to 8-minute window to make contact with the ISS crew.

    • Only a few students ask questions due to the limited time available. Hundreds of other people are usually listening to the event from their classrooms or auditorium.


    International Space Station Ham Radio (ISS Ham Radio) provides opportunities to engage and educate students, teachers, parents and other members of the community in science, technology, engineering and math. Through the use of NASA educational resources, the ISS Ham Radio contact and related activities are integrated into the educational curriculum. ISS Ham Radio reaches a diverse population nationally and internationally in both formal (schools, universities) and informal (museums, camps, scout troops, planetariums, Challenger Learning Centers) settings. Opportunities exist for experimentation and for the evaluation of new technology as it relates to this program.

    ISS Ham Radio also provides a contingency communications network for NASA and the ISS crew.

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    Space Applications

    In preparation for their conversation with orbiting crewmembers, students learn about radio waves, amateur radio and related science topics. Students conduct research to prepare their questions, which often discuss science activities aboard the ISS and the career choices that led to a trip to space. In addition to inspiring new generations of space engineers, ISS Ham Radio serves as a backup communications network between the ISS crew and NASA.

    Earth Applications

    Direct contact with an orbiting outpost captures students’ imaginations and sparks a wide range of school activities related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While only a handful of students are able to ask questions in the brief flyover window, typically hundreds of other students are listening from their classrooms or the auditorium.

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    Operational Requirements

    The ISS ham radio is needed to successfully conduct an ISS Ham Radio session. During the sessions the crewmembers answer questions from the students for approximately 10 minutes. These activities are scheduled as time is available from the crewmembers.

    Operational Protocols

    ISS Ham Radio requires that the crew position themselves in front of the ISS ham radio equipment during each session.

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    Results/More Information

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    Related Websites
    Amateur Radio on the International Space Station

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    image NASA Image: ISS014E18307 - Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expeditions 14 and 15 Flight Engineer, talks with students at the International School of Brussels in Belgium during a ham radio pass from Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) in the Zvezda Service Module.
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    image Students attending Hanazono Elementary School in Akashi-city, Japan get together for an ARISS contact with Sunita Williams in February 2007. Image courtesy of Satoshi Yasuda, 7M3TJZ.
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    image NASA Image: ISS024E013397 Doug Wheelock as he uses a HAM radio in the service module.
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