ARRL – The currently silent packet radio system on the International Space Station could be back on the air by year’s end.
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) hardware team members have located an original duplicate of the packet module that had been in use on the International Space Station (ISS) before failing more than a year ago after 17 years of service. With a new battery installed, the unit was tested and found to be functioning. The ARISS packet system in the space station’s Columbus module, operating on 145.825 MHz, quit last July after first experiencing some problems. All necessary paperwork has been completed to manifest the packet module on the Progress 71P spacecraft launch now set for Halloween, with docking on November 2.
“Installation date will depend on the crew’s busy schedule, but ARISS hopes packet can be online again by the end of November 2018,” ARISS said this week in a news release. ARISS said it’s heard from “many hams” who have been asking when the packet system will be back on the air.
When the ARISS packet module aboard ISS died in last year, the ARISS hardware team already was overburdened with the design and safety certification of the new interoperable radio system ARISS has been developing that’s set for launch next year. The team did attempt some basic troubleshooting of the old packet module but was unable to revive it and decided instead to dedicate all of its time to the new replacement radio system, including packet capability.
Early this year, thermal testing of the first flight-identical power supply for the new comprehensive radio system showed that some changes to air flow were needed. This change would delay launch of the new radio equipment from late 2018 to early 2019.