In late May, the USA team of the ARISS International working group became an incorporated non-profit entity in the state of Maryland, officially becoming ARISS-USA. This move allows ARISS-USA to work as an independent organization, soliciting grants and donations. They will continue promoting amateur radio and STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math within educational organizations and inspire, engage and educate our next generation of space enthusiasts.
ARISS-USA will maintain its collaborative work with ARISS International as well as with US sponsors, partners, and interest groups. The main goal of ARISS-USA remains as connecting educational groups with opportunities to interact with astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). ARISS-USA will expand its human spaceflight opportunities with the space agencies, beyond low Earth orbit, starting with lunar opportunities including the Lunar Gateway. ARISS-USA will continue to review and accept proposals for ISS contacts and expand its other educational opportunities to increase interest in space sciences and radio communications.
Becoming an independent organization has been discussed for quite some time. ARISS-USA lead Frank Bauer, KA3HDO said “The scope and reach of what ARISS accomplishes each year has grown significantly since its humble beginnings in 1996. Our working group status made it cumbersome to establish partnerships, sign agreements and solicit grants. These can only be done as an established organization.” Bauer further elaborated, “The ARISS-USA team remains deeply indebted to our working group partners—ARRL and AMSAT, who enabled the birth of ARISS—and our steadfast sponsors, NASA Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) and the ISS National Lab (INL).” ARISS-USA aims to keep earning high regards from all these partners and sponsors.
While ARISS-USA is now an incorporated non-profit entity, we are in the process of applying for tax exemption as a Section 501 (c) (3) charitable, scientific or educational organization. Until that status is approved by the USA Internal Revenue Service, donations made directly to ARISS-USA will not be tax deductible for taxpayers in the USA. Those wanting to make a tax deductible donation for the benefit of ARISS-USA can, in the meantime, continue to make donations to ARISS sponsor AMSAT-NA through the ARISS website at: www.ariss.org.
As ARISS-USA begins a new era as a human spaceflight amateur radio organization, it acknowledges those who were so instrumental in the formation of human spaceflight amateur radio. These include Vic Clark, W4KFC and Dave Sumner, K1ZZ from the ARRL; Bill Tynan, W3XO and Tom Clark, W3IO from AMSAT; Roy Neal, K6DUE a major guide for SAREX and ARISS; and NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL. Also remembered is Pam Mountjoy, NASA education, who had the vision to develop the ARISS working group as a single amateur radio focus into the space agencies. All of these giants’ shoulders are what ARISS-USA rests upon.