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Amateur Radio Digital Communications Announces Grant to ARISS

Amateur Radio Digital Communications Announces Grant to ARISS

Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC), owner and manager of AMPRNet, has announced what’s being called “a very generous grant” to Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) to help fund its next-generation Amateur Radio system on the ISS. The dollar figure was not made public. In July, ARDC announced a philanthropic initiative to provide monetary grants to organizations, groups, projects, and scholarships that have significant potential to advance the state of the art of Amateur Radio and of digital communications.

Late that month, ARDC announced the sale of some 4 million unused consecutive AMPRNet internet addresses to establish a program of grants and scholarships program in support of communications and networking research — with a strong emphasis on Amateur Radio. The sale to what ARDC called “a very big company with a significant internet presence” fetched “several million dollars.” A precise figure was not specified, “to avoid adversely influencing others buying and selling addresses,” ARDC said. The addresses sold came out of a block of some 16 million internet addresses obtained nearly 40 years ago and “devoted exclusively to Amateur Radio” for TCP/IP ham radio networking.

In its funding request, ARISS said it was “in critical need of an infrastructure update” to ensure that its primary program that lets students speak to ISS crew members via Amateur Radio can continue. ARISS said its next-generation interoperable radio system (IORS) will “enable new, exciting capabilities for hams, students, and the general public.” Enhancements would include:

  • New Amateur Radio communication and experimentation capabilities, including an enhanced voice repeater and updated digital packet radio
  • APRS capability
  • Two-way slow-scan TV (SSTV) in both the US and Russian ISS segments
  • A new multi-voltage power supply that will support present and future Amateur Radio capabilities and enable wireless experimentation

ARISS pointed out in its application that pre-launch certification requires it to build 10 next-generation radio systems to support hardware development, on-orbit operations, training, and long-term maintenance. ARISS said the IORS successfully completed a battery of rigorous testing that NASA requires as part of final pre-launch and operation hardware certification. Final flight safety certification in preparation for launch is now under way, and ARISS hopes to have the IORS ready to send to the station by year’s end.

Announcement of the grant award to ARISS came via AMSAT, and both organizations extended their gratitude to ARDC for its generosity. The grant to ARISS is the first since ARDC announced its grant program earlier this summer.


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