My first HAM contact with the ISS.
(Photo’s are “visible” passes of the ISS over Oshkosh, WI)
One of the reasons I was interested in getting my HAM license was I heard it was
possible to contact the International Space Station (ISS). I got my license on 4/25/11.
A couple weeks later I looked into how to contact the ISS via HAM radio.
After finding the proper frequencies, I set up my radio and scanner for the uplink
and down link frequencies for making contact. I down loaded “Footprint”, a satellite
tracking program, and waited for a chance to make an attempt. A week or so ago I
made a half dozen or so attempts over a few days. Hearing nothing I was wondering, do
I have the right frequencies? Is my radio set up right for the split? Or, being
in the middle of the space shuttle mission (STS-134) are they to busy to bother with
HAM radio? Figuring the later I thought I would wait to try again until after the
current shuttle mission was over.
On the morning of May 28th, 2011 while checking e-mail, I decided to check ISSTracker.com
to see where the station was. I discovered the next pass was about 18 minutes away
and decided I would give it another shot. Started “Footprint” and even though my
Two Line Element (TLE) data was about a week out of date, I was a close mach to the
ISSTracker position, AOS 10:54cdt, LOS 11:03cdt, EXQ 214°, Max. Elevation of 46°,
and 9 minuets duration, a good pass! Turned on the radio and scanner and turned
down the squelch.
When “Footprint” showed Acquisition Of Signal (AOS) I only heard
static, then thought I heard a faint signal? Changed my receive frequency from 145.800
to 145.805 to account for the Doppler shift. Sure enough there was a signal there.
Keyed the mic and said “November Alfa One Sierra Sierra, this is Kilo Charlie Niner
Uniform Bravo X-ray. No response, But now I could definitely hear “Calling any station,
this is NA1SS! Waited a bit for them to get closer and heard them making contact
with other stations.
Retuned the receive frequency back to 145.800. Keyed the mic, “November
Alfa One Sierra Sierra, this is Kilo Charlie Niner Uniform Bravo X-ray. This time
clear as a bell “ Kilo Charlie Niner Uniform Bravo X-ray this is NA1SS, Mike, on
the International Space Station.” Wow! Keyed the mic “Very nice to talk to you, congratulations
to you and the shuttle crew on a successful mission. He came back with, “Thank you,
the rest of my shuttle crew is right next to me, we just finished dinner and getting
ready for our return to earth tomorrow.” I then heard him making contacts with other
stations and not long after that the signal was gone.
Short but sweet! A lot of Ham’s
have tried for a long time to get a QSO with the ISS with no luck, in about a month
of receiving my license I was lucky enough to make contact. As a huge fan of the
space program since I was young, this was a real thrill and one I hope to repeat. I’m
assuming “Mike” was Mission Specialist Michael Fincke a member of the STS-134 crew.
I had planed to set up something to record if I ever did make contact, but figured
I had time. Who knew?
The rig I used was my Yaesu FT-7900 Mobile 2M/70cm Dual Band
Transceiver with a Diamond X-30, 3.0dB Gain (2m) antenna. More on my HAM gear here.