Contact with the International Space Station!
Posted: 19 October 2008 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  1022
Joined  2008-08-28

It took patience, but today I made a successful contact with Richard Garriott operating from aboard the ISS.

I listened yesterday (October 18) morning to a high-elevation (83-degree) pass, but he was talking to students at an elementary school somewhere and when the ISS is doing that type of project, they’re on a different uplink frequency to keep the loonies from trying to cause interference.

At the end of his conversation with the students, he switched back to the “normal” uplink frequency and made several contacts with amateurs in the eastern U.S., but, by that time, the ISS was down to less than 4 degrees elevation here, so no luck with a contact.

This afternoon’s pass of the ISS was at good elevation from San Angelo (81 degrees) and I made the contact just as the ISS passed overhead.  Of course, Richard’s very popular around the amateur world, and I heard him mention how difficult it is trying to pick out a single call sign from among the hundreds of stations calling him at any given time.

I didn’t really think I had that good of a chance to contact him because he was periodically asking if there were any Scouting Jamboree on the Air stations wanting to make contact.  So I didn’t have my digital voice recorder handy to document our contact.  One of my “satellite buddies” hopefully recorded the pass and will send me a copy.

Richard has been busy sending SSTV images.  On some of the low-elevation passes I’ve heard the SSTV signals even though there was no voice communication going on.  I think one of the three SSTV choices allows for unattended operation—takes a picture, then automatically transmits the image.

Richard’s scheduled to be on the ISS until the crew change takes place in 10 days and he’ll ride back to Earth on the Soyuz capsule.

I hope his enthusiasm for operating the amateur station on board the ISS rubs off on the Expedition 18 crew and they become more active than the crew they’re relieving.

About 5 minutes after I uploaded the blog about making contact with the ISS, I got an e-mail from a “satellite buddy” in Eden, Utah, and he attached an audio file of my contact with Richard using the call sign NA1SS (the call sign of the ISS amateur radio station).  My contact is about 1 m and 44 s into the cut.  My contact with the ISS

The guy who recorded it cut out the “dead air” between Richard’s transmissions.  Of course, you can only hear the downlink from the ISS, not my end of the conversation since I didn’t record it myself.


Glenn Miller - AA5PK
USAFSS/Rimbachvet Aug ‘72 - Jun ‘75