Kendall Amateur Radio Society



Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)

It has been over 22 years since September 8, 2022--On September 8, 2000, 22 years ago, the Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, starting the STS-106 Space Shuttle mission. On-board this mission was the ARISS Ericsson radio, a packet module/power supply and other hardware that became the first operational radio system on the ISS (International Space Station.) Two months later, on November 13, 2000, the Expedition-1 crew installed this hardware system in the Zarya FGB (Functional Cargo Block from the Russian abbreviation) module and operated it for the first time. Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, ARISS International Chair.


Since then, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) inspires students, worldwide, to pursue interests and  careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through amateur radio communications opportunities with the International Space Station (ISS) on-orbit crew.  Students learn about life on board the ISS and explore Earth from space through science and math activities. ARISS provides opportunities for the school community (students, teachers, families and community members) to become more aware of the substantial benefits of human spaceflight and the exploration and discovery that occur on spaceflight journeys. Students have the opportunity to learn about space technologies and the technologies involved with space communications through exploration of amateur radio.


Amateur Radio organizations, and space agencies in the USA, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe sponsor this educational opportunity by providing the equipment and operational support to enable direct communication between crew on the ISS and students around the world via Amateur Radio. Hundreds of Amateur Radio operators around the world work behind the scenes to make these educational experiences possible. Amateur Radio is a popular hobby and a service in which licensed participants operate communications equipment with a deep appreciation of the radio art.

Goals of the ARISS Program

  • Inspire an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects and in STEM careers among young people.
  • Provide an educational opportunity for students, teachers and the general public to learn about wireless technology and radio science through Amateur Radio
  • Provide an opportunity for Amateur Radio experimentation and evaluation of new technologies. 
  • Provide a contingency communications system for NASA and the ISS crew. 
  • Provide crew with another means to directly interact with a larger community outside the ISS, including friends and family.

Radio Contacts with the ISS

Astronaut Sunita Williams, KD5PLB, talking to students from the ISS ham radio station.


Scheduled ARISS Amateur Radio contacts with the ISS are conducted either by direct contact, or by telebridge contact. The method used will depend on the radio station equipment and experienced radio amateur volunteers available to support the contact as well as technical issues related to the orbit of the ISS over the contact location.

Because the ARISS program supports the testing and installation of amateur radio stations aboard the ISS, astronauts have the equipment available to also make unscheduled ham radio contacts with radio amateurs all around the world on a one-to-one basis during their personal time. With a very limited investment in amateur radio equipment, licensed hams, including students who have access to amateur radio stations in a classroom, can make individual contact with astronauts aboard the ISS by learning to follow the published orbital schedule and practice some basic amateur radio contact techniques.


Simultaneous Operations of APRS and Voice Repeater now a Reality on ISS


August 12, 2022—ARISS announced that starting August 11, simultaneous operations of the ARISS Voice Repeater and digital APRS communications on the International Space Station (ISS) is now a reality.  Current ARISS operations include voice repeater transmissions with the JVC Kenwood D710GA in the Columbus module and APRS packet operation from an identical radio in the Service Module (Zvezda).  Packet operations are on 145.825 mHz.

The ARISS Russia and USA teams have been working for several weeks to prepare the Service Module radio for APRS operations.  ARISS Russia team member Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, led the effort, working with Russian mission controllers and the on-board ISS cosmonauts to configure the Service Module radio for APRS ops.  On August 11, final checkouts were completed and the APRS packet mode was switched on for amateur radio use.

The Columbus Module radio uses the callsign NA1SS and the new Service Module radio uses RS0ISS.  Aside from the callsigns, the radios are identical and packet operations are the same as before.  You can use RS0ISS, ARISS, or APRSAT as the packet path.  Also, both radios are expected to be on full time, except during educational contacts, EVAs, and docking or undocking.

You can find operational status and expected downtimes of the ISS radios at

How to contact the ISS


Visit the "Beginners" sections of the AMSAT-NA or AMSAT-UK websites for information on getting started with all modes of amateur radio satellite operation.  Here you will find a 9-part tutorial:

·         Part 1 – Getting Started

·         Part 2 – Antenna Considerations

·         Part 3 – More on Antennas

·         Part 4 – Tracking

·         Part 5 – Transponders

·         Part 6 – History of AMSAT

·         Part 7 – Satellites

·         Part 8 – More on Satellites

·         Part 9 – Even more on Satellites.

But in general:

Start with orbit prediction software.  Commercial and public domain software is available to help track when the ISS will be in range of your station, and where to point your antenna. Various online programs allow you to follow the path of satellites, including the ISS.  You'll find one such pass prediction tool on the AMSAT website. Use the drop-down menu to select the "ISS" as the satellite you want to track and enter your longitude and latitude information. Click on the link provided on that page to view the current location of the ISS.  You'll find this and other tools for satellite tracking on the AMSAT website at

While some ISS crew members make random, unscheduled, amateur radio voice contacts with earth-bound radio amateurs. They also make radio contact during their breaks, pre-sleep time and before and after mealtimes. Astronauts have contacted thousands of hams around the world. The work schedules of the ISS crew dictate when they can operate the radios. The crew's usual waking period is 0730 - 1930 UTC. The most common times to find a crew member making casual periods are about one hour after waking and before sleeping, when they have personal time. They're usually free most of the weekend, as well.  So use the path prediction software to determine what time the path might be in line-of-sight of your location.  Then you need to compare this with the Space Shuttle work periods and expected free time before and after.

A typical ground station for contacting the ISS station includes a 2-meter FM transceiver and 25-100 watts of output power. A circularly polarized crossed-Yagi antenna capable of being pointed in both azimuth (North-South-East-West) and elevation (degrees above the horizon) is desirable. But successful contacts have even been made with vertical and ground plane antennas.  


Current status of ISS ham radio stations as of November 03, 2022

Columbus Module radios: 

  • IORS - InterOperable Radio System, (Kenwood D710GA) – STATUS - Configured. Default mode is for cross band repeater (145.990 MHz up {PL 67} & 437.800 MHz down).  ​​​​
    • Powered OFF for US and RS EVAs on November 15 and 17. OFF Nov. 14 about 12:30 UTC. ON Nov. 18 about 18:00 UTC.
    • Powered OFF for RS and US EVAs on November 25 and 28.
    • Capable of supporting USOS scheduled voice contacts, packet and voice repeater ops

Service Module radios:

  • IORS - InterOperable Radio System, (Kenwood D710GA) – STATUS - Configured. ​​ Default mode is for​​​ packet operations (145.825 MHz up & down)​​.​​
    • Powered OFF for US and RS EVAs on November 15 and 17. OFF Nov. 14 about 12:30 UTC. ON Nov. 18 about  18:00 UTC.
    • Powered OFF for RS and US EVAs on November 25 and 28.
    • Capable of supporting ROS scheduled voice contacts, packet, SSTV and voice
    •  repeater ops.

Most ARISS operations are split frequency. The downlink is the earth station's receiving frequency. The uplink is the earth station's transmitting frequency. Earth stations can listen to the downlink frequency and transmit on the uplink frequency when the ISS is in range and crew members are on the air. Please do not transmit on the ISS downlink frequency.

Call Signs in Use

The following call signs are available for use on the ISS:

  • Russian: RS0ISS
  • USA: NA1SS
  • European: DP0ISS, OR4ISS, IR0ISS
  • Packet Station Mailbox: RS0ISS-11 and RS0ISS-1
  • Other call signs may come into use as the station and crew change.



Astronaut Reid Wiseman, KF5LKT makes personal contacts with hams during the US Field Day exercise in June 2014


QSL Cards

QSL cards are offered to confirm radio contacts with the ISS. Here's how to obtain one.

Radios, Modes and Antennas on the ISS

The ISS amateur radios are a Kenwood D710E and a Kenwood D710GA.  The Kenwood TM-D710E radio is located in the ISS Service Module (Zvezda), supports 2 meter (144-146 MHz) and 70 cm (435-438 MHz) operation. This radio provides a higher output power capability supporting FM and SSTV operations. The higher power capability allows nearly horizon-to-horizon signal reception using simple hand-held radios or scanners. A set of 5 default options, or Programmable Memories, are embedded in the D710E to support ISS operations.

There are numerous channels programmed in the radios. Two of these channels on the 2-meter radio band support voice operations (145.80 down/144.49 up for ITU Regions 2 &3 & 145.80 down/145.20 up for ITU Region 1). It is necessary to use two uplink frequencies to operate in accordance with region-to-region IARU band plan differences.

The crew switches between one frequency to the other; scanning is not used. For example, if a crew member begins a QSO over the US, they can track US stations until they hit the Atlantic and then they will quickly lose US stations. They can then switch over to the other frequency and pick up stations in Europe or Africa

The new phase and equipment of ARISS on the ISS.

Major pieces of the new equipment include the new JVC – Kenwood D710GA transceiver and a new multi-voltage power supply developed by the ARISS team to interconnect the various ham radio, video and computer equipment with different power requirements. 

Some years back, the original 5watt Ericsson HT radios from the SAREX Space Shuttle era were replaced on the ISS with Kenwood donated D710 transceivers. More recently, after Kenwood, merged with JVC, newer more powerful versions of radios were again custom modified as D710GA and donated by Kenwood to meet evolving ARISS requirements in the ISS program.
Initial operation of the new radio system is in FM cross band repeater mode using an uplink frequency of 145.99 MHz with an access tone of 67 Hz and a downlink frequency of 437.800 MHz. System activation was first observed at 01:02 UTC on September 2. Special operations will continue to be announced.
A second IORS (Interoperable Radio System) undergoes flight certification and will be launched later for installation in the Russian Service module. This second system enables dual, simultaneous operations, (e.g. voice repeater and APRS packet), providing diverse opportunities for radio amateurs. It also provides on-orbit redundancy to ensure continuous operations in the event of an IORS component failure. 
Next-gen development efforts continue. For the IORS, parts are being procured and a total of ten systems are being fabricated to support flight, additional flight spares, ground testing and astronaut training. Follow-on next generation radio system elements include an L-band repeater uplink capability, currently in development, and a flight Raspberry-Pi, dubbed “ARISS-Pi,” that is just beginning the design phase.  The ARISS-Pi promises operations autonomy and enhanced SSTV operations.

Packet Radio

There is one radio on the ISS that operates as a packet digipeater. The Columbus D710GA can support those operation at about 10 watts and uses NA1SS. It will respond to the alias "ARISS".

For information about using the ISS packet system, check out this 
resource provided by JoAnne Maenpaa, K9JKM.

SSTV Operation

Slow Scan Television (SSTV) images can be transmitted from the International Space Station. An SSTV system is an integral part of one of the ARISS ham radio stations, NA1SS/ RS0ISS in the Service Module. It transmits and receives JPEG still images. This system utilizes the Kenwood D700 and D710 radios and the ARISS antennas mounted on the Service Module. The SSTV equipment also includes Space Cam and MMSSTV software, a radio/computer interface module and data cables. A Kenwood VC-H1 is also used to provide near real-time automatically transmitted images (usually earth views) once every 3 minutes, when active.

A Kenwood D710 radio located in the Service Module was deployed by the Russian Space Agency, Energia to provide extended support of imaging experiments using various SSTV formats. It employs Space Cam and MMSSTV software to transmit stored images.

See the European Space Agency's video, 
How to get pictures from the International Space Station via amateur radio

In preparation for future ISS SSTV events, a video demonstration of receiving SSTV from the ISS was created by avid ARISS supporter, John Brier, KG4AKV. In addition, John has provided an excellent online tutorial explaining in more detail how to configure a simple system to acquire and view the SSTV images. Links to both can be found at  and

To view or submit SSTV received images transmitted from the ISS, and to follow SSTV operations, check out the 
ISS SSTV blog site.


A set of four antenna systems are deployed in the ISS Service Module supporting amateur radio operations on multiple frequencies and allow for simultaneous automatic and crew-tended operations. Having four antennas also ensures that ham radio operations can continue aboard the station should one or more of the antennas fail. Three of the four antennas are identical, and each can support both transmit and receive operations on 2-meter, 70-cm, L band and S band. They also support reception for the station's Russian Glisser TV system, which is used during spacewalks. The fourth antenna has a 2.5-meter (8 foot) long vertical whip that can be used to support High Frequency (HF) operations, particularly on 10 meters. Currently, one of the 3 VHF/UHF antennas is disconnected, and the HF antenna has no radio hardware available for use.

Two antennas are installed in the Columbus module, currently serving the Ericsson radios deployed there. Frequencies available for transmission to and from Columbus are 2 meters, 70 centimeters, L-band and S-band. These antennas will also support the Ham TV DATV transmitter.


The following is a graphic of the major components of the International Space Station.  These were transported to space component by component.  STEM students should consider the hundreds of system engineering hours it took to insure that once in space, all components fit together. 

73, Ken – KD3VK