FOR CURRENT UP-TO-THE-MINUTE INFORMATION ON STS-93:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS SAREX?
With the help of Amateur Radio clubs and ham radio
operators, US astronauts can speak over the ham airwaves
while in orbit. They talk directly with students, showing
teachers, students, parents and communities how Amateur
Radio energizes youngsters about science, technology, and
learning. The program is called SAREX, the Space Amateur
NASA's intent in having astronauts take part in SAREX is to
involve the largest possible numbers of people,
particularly youths, in technology and the US space
program with the help of Amateur Radio.
During a SAREX mission, the astronauts make scheduled and
unscheduled Amateur Radio contacts with schools, random
contacts with Amateur Radio operators and contact with the
A few schools are selected from around the world for
scheduled contacts with the shuttle during SAREX missions.
These contacts give the schools a 95% chance at a
successful contact. Ten or more students at each school ask
the astronauts questions, and the nature of these contacts
embodies the primary goal of SAREX-to excite student
interest in learning.
WHO SPONSORS SAREX?
The American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Radio Amateur
Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) and NASA sponsor these
exciting experiments. AMSAT volunteers support technical
operations, and mentor school groups. ARRL provides SAREX
information. ARRL and NASA HQ create and distribute SAREX
lesson plans and resources for teachers. SAREX is supported
by the Federal Communications Commission.
Hundreds of Amateur Radio operators, including those from
NASA Amateur Radio clubs at Johnson Space Center, Goddard
Space Flight Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center, work
behind the scenes.
HOW CAN I -- A TEACHER -- GET STARTED IN SAREX?
Schools desiring a scheduled SAREX contact with the
astronauts are required to submit a proposal and a SAREX
school application to ARRL. Applications are available
from ARRL or on the web at
While only a few schools get scheduled contacts per
mission, all schools can participate by eavesdropping, or
by trying to make a random contact with the astronauts.
SAREX lesson plans are available from ARRL for all schools
who participate. Imagine listening in on the astronauts
from your classroom! If you are a school teacher, but are
unfamiliar with ham radio, you can still take part in
SAREX. Contact ARRL EAD to get a list of your local Amateur
Radio clubs to assist you.
If you are a parent, grandparent and/or a ham radio
operator, contact ARRL EAD and a local school. EAD will
send materials, including ways to convince teachers and
school administrators that Amateur Radio is an important
discipline the school should take advantage of on a full-
time basis. This is a tremendous opportunity for you to
showcase SAREX and Amateur Radio to students of all ages.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR A SCHOOL RADIO CONTACT?
There will probably be only one more SAREX Shuttle mission
before the International Space Station (ISS) is assembled.
But once the ISS crews' schedules are normalized, they will
make school radio contacts from the ISS.
If your school is interested in SAREX, you must complete a
SAREX school application and write an educational proposal.
ARRL collects these for the SAREX Working Group who makes
the final selection with the astronauts. All grade levels
and type of schools (rural, suburban and particularly
urban) are encouraged to apply.
For a SAREX school application send a self-addressed
stamped envelope to ARRL, check the ARRL web address, or
email your request for an electronic version to:
[email protected] A proposal must accompany all completed
applications. The SAREX Working Group and NASA want to
1) How will you:
a) integrate this activity into the school curriculum and
b) involve as many grade levels as you can, participating
through essay contests, poster drawing, letter writing,
2) Do you have an experienced group of hams to assist in
setting up all necessary Amateur Radio equipment and
3) How will you get as much media coverage as possible?
HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY SCHOOL IS SELECTED FOR A CONTACT?
Schools that have been selected for SAREX scheduled
contacts are called by a SAREX coordinator. NASA requires
selections to be made about six months prior to launch. If
a school is not chosen, its application is recycled for
future missions. Schools typically wait one year or
I AM A HAM. HOW CAN I INTRODUCE SAREX TO MY CHILD?
Bring a shortwave receiver to school and let students
eavesdrop on Amateur Radio retransmissions. Then set up a
2-meter satellite ground station in class, and try a
satellite contact. The teacher can apply for a future
school contact, almost guaranteeing that students will have
an opportunity to communicate with a crew.
ARE THERE VIDEOS ON SAREX?
You and your class will enjoy watching students talk to
astronauts via ham radio. ARRL has a video all about space,
with 1.5 hours of programming, at the cost of (your and
our) duplication, shipping (in the US) and handling for
$12.00. Call Marjorie, at 860-594-0267, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
(Eastern), using a credit card. Or send a check to ARRL
EAD, 225 Main St, Newington CT 06111. Volume 2 Space
Amateur Radio EXperiment includes-
* Ham Radio In Space. An overview of Amateur Radio in
space-from satellites to the space shuttles, and beyond.
* SAREX Space Shuttle Mission STS-51F. Astronaut Tony
England, W0ORE, recounts SAREX aboard Space Shuttle
Challenger, as the 2nd astronaut in history to operate ham
radio in space. [18 min]
* SAREX Space Shuttle Mission STS-58. Highlights of the
volunteer and student prep, and actual SAREX contact made
by Cheatham County Schools, TN. [45 min]
CAN HAMS MAKE AN UNSCHEDULED SAREX CONTACT?
Yes. The astronauts have not lost sight of why SAREX has
been so successful. It is the Amateur Radio community that
has brought astronauts voices into schools. Crew members
make random contacts with earth-bound hams. They make
contacts during their breaks, pre-sleep time and before and
after meal-time. Astronauts have contacted thousands of
hams around the world. Computer software allows the crew to
operate the 2-meter packet gear radio in unattended mode,
and hams can make contacts when the astronauts are
WHAT TYPE RADIO DO I NEED?
A typical SAREX ground station includes a 2-meter FM
transceiver and 25-100 watts of output power. A circularly
polarized crossed-Yagi antenna capable of being pointed in
both azimuth (N-S-E-W) and elevation (degrees above the
horizon) is desirable. But successful contacts have even
been made with verticals and ground plane antennas.
Commercial and public domain software is available to help
track when the shuttle or ISS will be in range of your
station, and where to point your antenna. For more details
on assembling your satellite/SAREX station, get the
Satellite Handbook from ARRL (see last section).
HOW DO I TALK TO ASTRONAUTS?
You may communicate with the astronauts using voice, packet
(computer) radio or television. It all depends on what
equipment the astronauts have in space. Astronauts aboard
the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1996 made hundreds of random
voice contacts with ham radio operators. When the
astronauts were busy with other activities, a computerized
ham station aboard the orbiting shuttle automatically made
contact with thousands more hams.
WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF MAKING A RANDOM CONTACT?
During SAREX missions, astronauts' work schedules dictate
when they can operate the radios. So most of the general
contacts they make are random.
The SAREX Working Group recognizes the long-standing
commitment of the ham radio community in supporting SAREX,
and asks the crew to do as many general ham contacts as
possible during flights.
WHAT ARE SAREX RADIO FREQUENCIES?
The following VHF frequencies are used for some SAREX
missions. These frequencies were chosen after much
deliberation, to minimize problems between SAREX and other
2-meter users. If you have comments, please direct them to
AMSAT via Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, at his address in the Radio
Amateur Callbook or email [email protected] or ARRL EAD. We
appreciate the cooperation of all amateurs in making SAREX
Frequencies used for SAREX
FM Voice Downlink: (Worldwide) 145.55 MHz
FM Voice Uplink: 144.91, 144.93, 144.95, 144.97, and 144.99
FM Voice Uplink: (Europe only) 144.70,
144.75, and 144.80 MHz
FM Packet Downlink: 145.55 MHz
FM Packet Uplink: 144.49 Mhz
Frequencies used for SAREX during Shuttle Docking Missions
FM Voice Downlink: 145.84 MHz
FM Voice Uplink: 144.45, 144.47 MHz
Most SAREX operations are split-frequency (everyone uses
separate receive and transmit frequencies). Please do not
transmit on the shuttle's downlink frequency. The downlink
is your receiving frequency. The uplink is your
transmitting frequency. Earth stations should listen to the
downlink frequency and transmit on the uplink frequency
only when the spacecraft is in range and the astronauts are
on the air.
CAN I USE MY SHORTWAVE RADIO TO EAVESDROP ON THE CREW?
When a mission carries the SAREX payload, members of
Goddard Amateur Radio Club (MD) re-transmit live, air-to-
ground audio over Amateur Radio frequencies from their club
station, call sign WA3NAN. This station, and some VHF and
UHF repeater groups, provide this service so amateurs and
students can hear the educational communications. You will
hear the astronauts and Mission Control, and bulletins
about SAREX activities. WA3NAN operates on the high
frequency (HF) bands at 3.86, 7.185, 14.295, 21.395, and
28.65 MHz and in the Greenbelt, MD area on VHF at 147.45
CAN I RE-TRANSMIT COMMUNICATIONS ON THE HAM FREQUENCIES
FCC rules, Part 97.113 (e) , state that hams are permitted
to retransmit shuttle air-to-ground communications,
provided that approval has been obtained from NASA. In
1990, ARRL sought NASA's permission, on behalf of radio
amateurs, to retransmit communications. NASA Public Affairs
Office encouraged such retransmissions, indicating that the
communications are public domain.
Please follow these guidelines if you plan to rebroadcast
NASA shuttle communications,
1) In keeping with good amateur practice and FCC rules,
shuttle retransmissions should be limited to educational
missions, such as those carrying the SAREX payload.
2) Retransmissions should be done manually (with a control
3) NASA audio contains crew "wake-up music." Amateurs
should avoid, if at all possible, retransmitting music or
other prohibited transmissions listed by the FCC rules
HOW CAN I TRACK SPACECRAFT WITH A COMPUTER?
Software is available for tracking spacecraft with a
personal computer. Here are some options (ARRL in no way
warrants these products or services):
AMSAT TRACKING PROGRAMS:
The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT-NA) has
computer programs for IBM, Macintosh, Apple, Commodore, and
other computers. Contact AMSAT-NA at 850 Sligo Avenue,
Suite 600, Silver Spring MD 20910, Phone (301) 589-6062,
FAX (301) 608-3410, email [email protected]
AMSAT also has a collection of free software for download:
World Wide Web http://www.amsat.org
STSPLUS (Shareware for IBM).
This software, designed by David Ransom Jr., has excellent
graphics and maps to help create a mock Mission Control
Center. STSPLUS and other tracking software is posted on
Spacelink, NASA's electronic information system:
Modem line (205) 895-0028 Terminal emulation VT-100, Data
format 8-N-1 World Wide Web: http://spacelink.nasa.gov
Satellite tracking software may be found in the following
World Wide Web sites offer ways to predict spacecraft
passes via the Internet. Check the following WWW site:
Terry Jones, W8JE, http://www.datasync.com/~nz8c
WHAT ARE "KEPS?"
Spacecraft-tracking software uses "Keps" or Keplerian
elements (also known as "orbital" or "tracking" elements)
to pinpoint the location of a spacecraft. Keps provide the
software with a spacecraft's orbital track, which the
computer uses to calculate its location. Using a tracking
program tells an observer when a spacecraft will appear
above his or her horizon.
WHERE CAN I FIND KEPS?
During missions carrying SAREX, Keplerian elements are
AMSAT News Service publishes weekly information bulletins
These bulletins are distributed electronically through
amateur packet radio networks, landline networks and the
World Wide Web http://www.amsat.org
AMSAT also has email mailing lists to deliver Keps. To
subscribe, send a message with your request to
[email protected] Include your call sign (if any), your
email address, and the names (shown below) of the mailing
lists you wish to receive:
SAREX - mailing list
ANS - AMSAT News Service
AMSAT-BB - AMSAT Bulletin Board
KEPS - "Keps" mailing list
Goddard Amateur Radio Club, WA3NAN, maintains a BBS which
carries Keps updated daily, and SAREX bulletins.
Modem line (301) 286-4137
Internet [email protected]
TCP/IP address 126.96.36.199
Packet radio WA3NAN on 145.090 MHz in the Maryland/DC
Johnson Space Center Amateur Radio Club maintains a service
with the latest element sets available during missions.
Modem line (713) 244-5625
World Wide Web: http://www.phoenix.net/~mbordel/index.html
NASA EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
How do you find information on, payloads, space science and
mission lesson plans? NASA has materials and resources for
Specific mission and payload information can be obtained
directly from NASA, via the shuttle mission Home Page:
World Wide Web http://shuttle.nasa.gov
NASA Spacelink - One of NASA's electronic resources
specifically developed for use by the educational
community. Spacelink is a comprehensive electronic library
that hosts NASA's educational publications, the NASA
Television education schedule, and provides hundreds of
Teacher Resource Centers (TRC) have free-loan publications,
slides, audio cassettes, videocassettes, computer programs
and lesson plans. For information, contact the NASA TRC
that serves your region:
AK, AL, CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY:
NASA Ames Research Center
Teacher Resource Center
Mail Stop 253-2
Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000
CA cities near Dryden Research Center:
NASA Teacher Resource Center for Dryden Flight Research
45108 N. 3rd. Street East
Lancaster, CA 93535
Inquiries on the solar system and planetary exploration:
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Teacher Resource Center
Mail Stop 601-107
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
CT, DE, DC, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI:
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Teacher Resource Laboratory
Mail Code 130.3
Greenbelt, MD 20771-0001
VA's & MD 's Eastern Shores:
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Wallops Flight Facility
Education Complex-Teacher Resource Lab
Wallops Island, VA 23337-5099
FL, GA, PR, VI:
NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center
Educators Resources Laboratory
Mail Code ERC
Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899-0001
CO, KS, NE, NM, ND, OK, SD, TX:
Space Center Houston
JSC Educator Resource Center
1601 NASA Road One
Houston TX 77058-3696
KY, NC, SC, VA, WV:
Educator's Resource Center
WVU/NASA Fairmont IV & V Facility
100 University Drive
Fairmont, WV 26554
IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI:
NASA Lewis Research Center
Teacher Resource Center
Mail Stop 8-1
21000 Brookpark Road
Cleveland, OH 44135-3191
NASA Stennis Space Center
Teacher Resource Center
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000 Phone: (601) 688-3338
AL, AR, IA, LA, MO, TN:
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
NASA Educator Resource Center
One Tranquillity Base
Huntsville, AL 35758
NASA Television offers a front-row seat during launches and
a space activities, the latest in space science, plus
educational and historical programs. They sometimes air
live coverage of SAREX. NASA-TV is received by satellite
dish or may be on your local cable TV network.
This TV schedule is available via the Internet. The
Tuning-In NASA TV
Satellite - GE-2
85 degrees west longitude
Frequency 3880.0 MHz
Audio on 6.8 MHz
For more details, contact: Kelly Humphries, NASA TV, NASA
HQ, Washington D.C. 20546, or send email to:
HOW DO I GET A SAREX QSL?
QSL cards are similar to postcards. Hams exchange QSLs to
confirm their radio contacts with other stations.
Participating in SAREX is an exhilarating experience. But
waiting for that coveted QSL card requires patience.
Designing a card for the ultimate DXpedition is a lengthy
After a SAREX mission, ARRL and the SAREX Working Group
work with crew members to select photos from that mission,
and design and layout the QSL card. This may take a few
months because of the astronauts' busy schedules. Once the
cards are printed, ARRL forwards them to the Amateur Radio
club managing the QSLs.
Send your QSL cards or reports to ARRL. Include on your QSL
or report: shuttle flight number (STS-XX), date, time in
UTC, frequency and mode
(voice, packet or sstv). If you wish to receive a card, you
must include a large, self-addressed, stamped envelope with
proper postage or sufficient IRCs included.
These clubs have graciously volunteered to handle QSLs for
the following missions:
STS-74 Greater Norwalk Amateur Radio Club, Connecticut
STS-76 Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club,
STS-78 "The Net", Washington
STS-83 and 94 Bergen Amateur Radio Asso., New Jersey
STS- 93 Dayton Amateur Radio Association, Ohio
ARRL's SAREX RESOURCE LIST
EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT & INFORMATION is available from the
American Radio Relay League's (ARRL) Educational Activities
Department, 225 Main St, Newington CT 06111 USA Phone 860-
594-0301 Fax 860-594-0259
World Wide Web: http://www.arrl.org/
ARRL INFORMATION SERVER:
ARRL maintains an information email server. To receive an
index of files on the server, send a message to
[email protected]. Leave the subject line blank. On the first
line of your message, type SEND INDEX. On the second line,
type QUIT. A list of all files on the server will be
emailed to you.
SAREX ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB:
ARRL Web site-http://www.arrl.org/sarex/
AMSAT Web site-http://www.amsat.org
NASA's SAREX Web site -
Goddard Amateur Radio Club
Johnson Space Center Amateur Radio Club-
ARRL's Amateur Radio station (call sign W1AW) transmits
news bulletins (9:45 PM, 12:45 AM EST) on HF bands at
1.855, 3.99, 7.29, 14.29, 18.16, 21.39, 28.59 MHz and, in
the Hartford, CT area, on VHF at 147.555 MHz. Bulletins are
also on packet.
The AMSAT International Satellite Net on Sundays, 14.282
MHz, +/- QRM.
CAN I BECOME A HAM?
Amateur Radio operators, or "hams," are people from all
walks of life-no matter your age, gender or physical
ability. Getting started in Amateur Radio has never been
easier! Contact ARRL to request a free New Ham Package. It
contains details on your local Amateur Radio clubs,
instructors, exam sites and popular study guides. Call
ARRL's toll-free hotline for new hams: 1-800-32-NEW HAM
(800-326-3942) Why not get started, today!
Call ARRL (888-227-5289) for book orders.
Now You're Talking! book (3rd ed.) contains everything you
need to pass your Novice or Technician ham radio written
ARRL Technician Class Video Course. Learn the "ropes" with
the "pros." You won't find a better course or a better deal
anywhere. 6 hours of excitement.
ARRL Tech Q&A: A "Question and Answer" format for the
code-free Technician exam. Brief explanations of the
correct answers reinforce learning.
The Satellite Handbook has the information you need to
communicate through, or receive signals from orbiting
satellites and the spacecraft! Whether your interest is in
ham satellites, weather satellites, or other spacecraft,
you'll find everything from setting up ground station
equipment to antennas.
Your Packet Companion is perfect for the packet (computer)
radio newcomer, covers everything-from assembling a station
to sending mail, from packet satellites and spacecraft to
the latest networking systems. Straightforward writing
style and clear drawings get you on the cutting edge of
digital ham radio.
FOR CURRENT UP-TO-THE-MINUTE INFORMATION ON STS-93: