The amateur radio station comprizes several units. Some are located in the Russian segment, in the Service Module, called Zvesda. Other units are located in the American sector of the ISS, in the European Columbus module. It is a multiband and multimode station.
The onboard ARISS station offers a permanent space platform to the worldwide amateur radio community. Several operational modes are automated and used by groundstations without crew care (packet radio, VHF/UHF crossband repeater, SSTV downlink). Cosmonauts and astronauts also use the station to contact groundbound amateur radio stations in their free time.
The Space Agencies have entrusted ARISS with the task to organise ARISS School Contacts. When a contact is scheduled, volunteering amateur satellite operators set up a groundstation in the selected school. During the ten minutes pass of the ISS, an astronaut answers the questions prepared by the students. See the School Contacts page for more details.
When a satellite type ground station cannot be set up in the school, a dedicated volunteering "telebridge" amateur radio station establishes the radio contact with the ISS and signals are relayed to the school per telephone. ARISS counts ten "telebridge" ground stations, located in the USA , Argentina , Europe , Australia , South Africa and Hawaii . The European "telebridge" station ON4ISS is located in Belgium and operated by Philippe Van houte ON5PV. A second telebridge station IK1SLD, operated by Claudio Arriotti, is located in Casale Monferrato, Italy. Whenever possible, the audio of the ARISS School Contacts is distributed, worldwide and real time, by EchoLink and IRLP.
When the downlink signals of an ARISS School Contact are audible in Europe , an ARISS-Europe News Bulletin is circulated to the subscribers of a free mailing list (more than 2000 subscribers). Subscription facilities are provided in upper right corner of this webpage.