Press Release


Richard Garriott To Communicate With Students & Ham Radio Operators While Onboard ISS


SEPTEMBER 18, 2008


Through multiple agreements with NASA, the Russian Space Agency, RSC Energia, Space Adventures Ltd, and ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station), Richard Garriott will fly to ISS and will communicate with students, ham radio operators, friends, and family world-wide using the ARISS amateur radio station on-board the ISS.

Richard Garriott, with the amateur radio call sign, W5KWQ is the sixth private citizen to be flown by the Russian space agency to the ISS. A legendary video game programmer and designer, Garriott will be traveling to orbit this October and will speak with hundreds of students while thousands more listen in during a series of ten-minute ham radio contacts. His on-orbit stay on Soyuz and ISS is planned for October 12–22, 2008.

The locales for the worldwide student contacts include eight Challenger Learning Centers in the U.S., the Austin Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy in Austin, Texas, the Pinehurst School in Ashland, Oregon, the Budbrooke School in the U.K., and the National Space Challenge in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Garriott also plans to have random chats with scouts world-wide as part of the amateur radio “Jamboree on the Air” which is planned for October 18-19.

“An important aspect of Richard Garriott’s mission is to encourage students’ interest in science and technology through the amateur radio contacts,” said Rosalie White, ARISS International Secretary-Treasurer and ARISS Program Manager for ARRL (American Radio Relay League). “ARISS team members from all over the world volunteer their time every day so that students receive opportunities that we hope will cause them to study harder and learn more about any educational subject.”

The connection from the ISS to individual student locations will be established through an amateur radio station set up directly at the school or through the ARISS network of worldwide amateur radio ground stations utilized to link Garriott directly with students. The amateur radio system works similar to the way mission control centers in the United States and Russia talk to their space explorers.

To date, the ARISS international working group volunteer team has conducted over 360 school contacts with crew members using ham radio on the ISS.  The team has also set up radio contacts for family members of space explorers via ham radio. And have enabled countless contacts between the ISS crew members and hams on the ground.  All previous Space Adventures private citizens who have flown to ISS have used the ARISS equipment to talk to school students, ham radio operators and friends and family.


As part of Richard Garriott’s science investigations, he will be taking high definition photographs of many parts of the Earth and comparing them to photos taken on previous space missions. In conjunction with his Earth science investigation, Mr. Garriott is flying special amateur radio electronics that will enable him to send and receive low resolution images from space, comparable to cell phone images. Through this ham radio system, called Slow-Scan Television (SSTV), Garriott will beam down images of the Earth to schools and ham radio operators on the ground so that they can actively participate in his mission.

Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, ARISS International Chairman and AMSAT Vice President for Human Spaceflight Programs, states: “The ARISS team is quite excited about Richard’s flight.  He is very interested in bringing the wonders of space to those of us on Earth and he sees amateur radio as a great mechanism to make that happen. Through his school and scout voice contacts, his SSTV image downlinks and his communications with the world-wide amateur radio community, we see his mission as being “action packed” from an amateur radio perspective.”  Bauer continues, “What is extra special is that Richard Garriott’s flight coincides almost 25 years from when his father, Owen Garriott, made history as the first ham radio operator to communicate with radio amateurs from space on the STS-9 Space Shuttle mission.”  Owen Garriott’s call sign is W5LFL.  Richard also hopes to link up with his father via amateur radio during his flight.

Currently, Mr. Garriott is finishing his final spaceflight preparations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) located in Star City, Russia. His launch date is scheduled for October 12, 2008, with ISS docking planned for October 14 and undocking planned for October 22. Mr. Garriott was trained thoroughly to be a member of the Soyuz TMA-13/17S crew.

Since its first flight with Owen Garriott, in November 1983, Ham Radio has flown on more than two-dozen space shuttle missions, on the Mir Space Station and on the ISS. ARISS is the first and longest continuous operating educational outreach program to fly on the ISS. ARISS is an internationally-based working group, sponsored by the national amateur radio organizations and the international AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation) organizations from each country as well as the ISS space agency partners. In the United States, ARISS is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation-North America (AMSAT-NA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s education office provides support to ARISS and guidance in the development of ARISS educational objectives.

The primary purpose of ARISS is to allow students engaged in a science and technology curriculum to speak with an astronaut orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station. Using amateur radio, students ask questions about life in space or other space-related topics. Students fully participate in the ARISS contact by helping set up an amateur radio ground station at the school and then using that station to talk directly with the on-board crew member. Preparation for the experience motivates the children to learn about radio waves, space technology, science, geography and the space environment. In many cases, the students help write press releases and give presentations on the contact to their fellow students and to the local community. Through this hands-on experience, students are engaged and educated in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and are inspired to pursue STEM-related careers.


For more information about amateur radio on the ISS and Richard Garriott’s flight, go to:
NASA Reference: Ham Radio


Scout Jamboree on the Air: