Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Amateur Radio in Space: ARISSat-1 to Be Deployed from ISS Today; Watch Live on NASA TV

Expedition 26 Flight Engineers Dmitry Kondratyev and Oleg Skripochka, RN3FU, will step outside the International Space Station (ISS) today, February 16. While in space, they will install and retrieve experiments on the Russian segment of the complex and deploy ARISSat-1, a small ham radio satellite. NASA TV coverage began at 6:45 AM (CST), while the extra-vehicular activity -- commonly called a spacewalk -- will begin about 30 minutes later. The spacewalk will be the second for Kondratyev, who will wear the spacesuit marked with red stripes, and the third for Skripochka, who will wear the suit with blue stripes.

During the nearly six hour spacewalk, Kondratyev and Skripochka will deploy an experiment called ARISSat-1, a boxy 57-pound nanosatellite that houses congratulatory messages commemorating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's launch to become the first human in space. The ham radio transmitter will enable communications with Amateur Radio operators around the world for three to six months. It is the first of a series of educational satellites being developed in a partnership with the Radio Amateur Satellite Corp, the NASA Office of Education International Space Station National Lab Project, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program and RSC-Energia.

The two cosmonauts will also install two experiments: One will collect information useful in seismic forecasts and earthquake predictions, and the second will look at gamma splashes and optical radiation during terrestrial lightning and thunderstorms. The spacewalkers also will retrieve a pair of panels exposed to space as part of an experiment to identify the best materials for building long-duration spacecraft.

You can watch live online on the NASA TV Public and Media channels, or on your television set. Contact your local provider for the NASA TV channel in your area. -- Thanks to NASA and the ARRL for the information.