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International Space Station Ham Radio (ISS_Ham_Radio)


Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

Experiment Overview

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

Brief Summary

International Space Station Ham Radio (ISS Ham Radio) utilizes ham (amateur) radios to increase student interest in space exploration by allowing them to talk directly with crewmembers living and working aboard the ISS.

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 Severance, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
  • Mark Steiner, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, 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)

    ISS Expedition Duration:

    September 2010 - October 2013

    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

    ISS Ham Radio introduces students to crewmembers in order to inspire a new generation of explorers.

    Earth Applications

    Using a new approach in the classroom relating to space flight, science, and mathematics captures the imagination of students. Allowing students to participate in activities that directly involve space inspires them to pursue careers in science and engineering.

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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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    Information provided by the investigation team to the ISS Program Scientist's Office.
    If updates are needed to the summary please contact JSC-ISS-Program-Science-Group. For other general questions regarding space station research and technology, please feel free to call our help line at 281-244-6187 or e-mail at JSC-ISS-Payloads-Helpline.