Amateur radio is alive and well on the International Space Station, and there is a NASA program to allow students to talk to the station.  More great ROARS and Ramona news because one of our ROARS members, Kelly (KM6SMW) is also a local teacher and applied with many others to be one of the few selected teachers to make this happen for her students.  SHE MADE IT!!!   Kelly and her students are preparing to contact the International Space Station during the week of 5-9 May 2020.   
The primary goal of the ARISS program is to engage young people in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) activities and raise their awareness of space communication, radio communication, space exploration, and related areas of study and career possibilities.

Nine Schools and Organizations Make the Cut for Ham Contacts with ISS Crew

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has announced that nine schools and organizations have been selected to host Amateur Radio contacts with International Space Station crew members during the first half of 2020. The selected host organizations must now complete an equipment plan that demonstrates their ability to execute the ham radio contact. Once a plan is approved, the final selected schools/organizations will have contacts scheduled as their availability matches up with the opportunities offered by NASA.

The schools and host organizations are: Celia Hays Elementary School, Rockwall, Texas; Golden Gate Middle School, Naples, Florida; J.P. McConnell Middle School, Loganville, Georgia; Kittredge Magnet School, Atlanta, Georgia; Maple Dale Elementary School, Cincinnati, Ohio; Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee; Oakwood School, Morgan Hill, California; Ramona Lutheran School, Ramona, California, and River Ridge High School, New Port Richey Florida.

Click this ARISS web site link for more information  

Following is the formal press release:


Amateur Radio connects kids, crew as ISS orbits overhead   September 27, 2019

Ramona Lutheran Christian School at 520 Sixteenth Street, in Ramona, CA, has been selected as one of nine schools in America, to talk directly with astronauts on the International Space Station via Amateur Radio. The date for this event will be announced in October, for contact between January and June of 2020. This activity is part of the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) Program, which promotes learning opportunities as part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) initiative.

Ramona Lutheran students and teachers have been preparing for this upcoming event by: studying Astronomy, learning through student-centered projects about Space, researching International Space Station History, using technology-integrated curriculum, NASA educational materials, and practicing amateur radio theory and protocol.  Students will have the opportunity to practice, using a variety of radios, contacting amateur radio satellites at Ramona Lutheran’s campus prior to this event. Kelly Cammarano, Ramona Lutheran’s STEM teacher, had the opportunity in Connecticut to practice these skills when her summer ARRL Teachers Institute class contacted the Johnson Space Station in Texas with satellite communications, observing the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.  This will be the first direct contact in Ramona and students will ask questions to either a NASA astronaut or one of the first commercial astronauts to be assigned an ISS expedition. Ramona Outback Amateur Radio Society (ROARS) will provide technical training for students in grades 3-5 and equipment for this exciting educational experience.  At the bottom of the page are three articles - including photos - about this great activity you can download and print.

 What is ARISS?

ARISS is a joint venture by NASA, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) to facilitate communication via Amateur Radio between astronauts aboard the International Space Station and schools and communities around the world. ARISS programs excite and motivate students in a one-of-a-kind presentation and exchange.

ARISS program goals are:

1. Inspiring an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects and in STEM careers among young people.

2. Providing an educational opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public for learning about wireless technology and radio science through Amateur Radio.

3. Providing an educational opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public for learning about space exploration, space technologies and satellite communications.

What does our ARISS station look like?

It starts with a computer program that continuously plots the orbit locations of all the communications satellites including the International Space Station (see the ovals and orbit paths for a number of satellites on the screen).  This program also has the capability to (1) automatically control the frequency of the radio (in this case an Yaesu 991a) including a necessary - and constantly changing - frequency offset to correct for the Doppler errors caused by satellite motion, and (2) send azimuth and elevation steering instructions to the tracking antenna system.

Joe (AA2IL) had to build a custom interface module between the computer and the older Yaesu two-axis rotator.  With that done, the system flawlessly tracks a satellite from horizon to horizon.  This is a dynamic process since a full satellite pass may last 10 minutes or less.

The antennas themselves are hand-made by Joe, one for VHF and one for UHF.  Both have phased elements 90 degrees apart to made them circular polarized.  This is important since many satellites are tumbling and their polarization constantly changes. 

Joe's entire presentation to ROARS is attached below.  Click and download at your pleasure.

Steve Sampson,
Oct 23, 2019, 12:29 PM
Steve Sampson,
Oct 23, 2019, 12:30 PM
Steve Sampson,
Oct 23, 2019, 12:30 PM
Steve Sampson,
Jan 22, 2020, 9:19 PM