Amateur radio gear heads for the Space Station

Amateur radio gear heads for the Space Station

A Kenwood TM-D710GA amateur radio rig will soon be installed for operational use in the European Columbus laboratory aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The TM-D710GA was launched into orbit on 7 March aboard the SpaceX CRS-20 flight.

The TM-D710GA will be used for communications between astronauts and school children participating in the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) educational outreach program.

This is not the first time Kenwood amateur gear has gone into space.

The company’s TM-733E/A and TM-V7A models were employed on the Soviet space station Mir in 1996 and 1998 respectively, and provided packet communication and transmitting SSTV (slow scan television) services.

And TM-D700E amateur radio equipment was installed on the ISS in 2003 at the request of ARISS.

ARISS was established to promote science, space and radio technology education through the operation of amateur radio equipment in space. Kenwood radios customised for the ISS have been developed based on ARISS specifications.

A front-on view of the Kenwood TM-D710GA amateur radio rig

The TM-D710GA has special features for use on the ISS, such as heat dissipation performance for microgravity, as well as enhancements, additions or changes of core operational functions.

In addition to ARISS functions, it will be used to support the operation of SSTV to transmit still images, provide packet radio communication, run a voice repeater and serve as backup communications in case of a communication failure between the ISS and the ground station.

Astronauts will also be able to use it during their off-duty time.

The same model is also scheduled for installation on Zvezda, the Russian service module on the ISS, towards the end of 2020.

ISS image courtesy NASA.

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