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International Space Station Reference

Ham Radio
Space Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment

The Space Amateur Radio Experiment, or SAREX, was a long-running program to use amateur radio equipment on board the space shuttle, the Russian Mir space station, and the International Space Station. Students from more than 200 schools exchanged questions and answers with astronauts in orbit. It was also used to conduct communications experiments with amateur radio operators on the ground.

The Space Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment, or SAREX, provided students with the unique opportunity to talk by radio with astronauts in the shuttle orbiting the Earth traveling about 27,360 kilometers (17,000 miles) per hour. With the help of amateur radio operators on the ground, students attempted to contact the astronauts by voice, packet (computer) radio, or television depending on the equipment the shuttle took into space.

Astronauts who are licensed ham radio operators participated in SAREX during their free time on missions. They made ham radio contacts with students around the world, exciting them about space, science and technology. The astronauts also contacted their families and friends, and individual ham radio operators.

When students used the radio contact with the astronauts to ask questions about the experiments being conducted on the mission and what it is like living in space. Classes tracked the shuttle's orbit using computer software, and "eavesdropped" on shuttle communications. When the astronauts were asleep, a robot computer amateur radio station aboard the shuttle was programmed to make contact with hams around the world automatically.

Throughout the 1990s, 25 space shuttle missions participated in SAREX. During STS-93, Mir cosmonauts used amateur radio to contact Space Shuttle Columbia and congratulate Eileen Collins on her first mission as a shuttle commander.
Michel Tognini
IMAGE: Astronaut Michel Tognini uses the SAREX-II during STS-93.
Astronaut Michel Tognini, mission specialist, uses the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment II, or SAREX-II, on Space Shuttle Columbia's flight deck during mission STS-93.
Related Links
Amateur Radio International Space Station (ARISS)
Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT)
American Radio Relay League (ARRL)
Wanna Be a Ham?What is AMSAT?AntennasCurriculumPhase 1SAREXRadio ClubsHam Radio

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 06/29/2004
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