Status Report

International Space Station Communications ISSCOM.061

By SpaceRef Editor
June 15, 2009
Filed under , , ,
International Space Station Communications ISSCOM.061

In the first place my congratulations to you all with the 47-th anniversary of the flight of Yuriy Gagarin.

For me an extra stimulus to go on with my monitoring of the Russian channels. Regretfully the radio communications after 21 October 2007 decreased considerably. But for me now and then traffic revealed enough interesting facts to keep my logbook up to date.

After 12 October 2007 VHF-1 (143.625 mc) was in use intensively by the Malaysian guest-cosmonaut, Sheikh Muzaphar Shukor. He himself established in Russian the contact with TsUP-Moscow. His reports for Malaysian experts he gave in english and I gave audio-recordings to the Dutch radio-amateur Cor Wielenga (PD0RKC) who relayed these for distribution among ham-users there. The intensive use of VHF-1 continued until the return of Shukor with the Soyuz-TMA10 together with Yurchikhin and Kotov on 21 October 2007.

On 29 October 2007 the Discovery, mission STS-120 arrived at the ISS. On board was the Italian Paolo Nespoli, who from inside the ISS a few times as radio-amateur, IZ0PJA, spoke with students of Italian schools via the 145.800 mc.

Regularly I missed a lot of interesting events due to absence. Better times started on 8 April 2008 at 11.16.39UTC when a relieve crew and the South-Korean cosmonaut, SoYonYi, departed to the ISS with the Soyuz-TMA12. The Russian crew was very special for they never flew before in space. The cosmonauts are Sergey Volkov and Oleg Kononenko. Sergey is the son of the Russian veteran cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov, who in the period between 1985 and 1992 made 3 long space flights. The first one, lasting 64 days, was to the space station Salyut-7, the 2 last flights were to the MIR-space station with a duration of 151 and 174 respectively.

So his son has a lot to do to catch up with his father. Almost all radio-communications within my range of Volkov Senior (his call-sign was Donbas) I monitored and recorded. So he is well represented in my audio-archives.

But Sergey already demonstrated that he is a chip of the old block. He acts resolutely and he did not show any sign of space sickness. For his Soyuz-command he chose the call sign Eridan. (a constellation).

Radiocommunications from the Soyuz-TMA12 during the flight to the ISS.

8 April 2008:

During the 1st pass over here between 1553 and 1556UTC Volkov could be heard already via the 121.750 mc FM-N during the check of time schedules. Simultaneuously the Telemetry channels in the 165 and 166 mc bands were in use.

The 2nd pass could be monitored between 1722 and 1730UTC. Volkov reported that all was good with them and that he was ready to execute commands. Thereafter he read out times, probably periods in which communications were possible.

9 April 2008:

Orbit 17: 1416-1423UTC: Here a summary of moments when in cases of emergency return in the atmosphere was possible under a certain angle of attack, in this case 127 degrees. Then a series of navigational data. One time Kononenko could be heard when he corrected Volkov.

Orbit 18: 1551-1558UTC.: Long series of times and navigational data. Also a summary of the number of seconds during which the engines worked for orbit corrections. During this pass I now and then experienced interference from a VHF-channel of Rotterdam Airport. This channel also uses 121.750 mc, but AM-Wide. But it was not difficult to monitor the S-TMA12 downlink.

Orbit 19: 1725-1730UTC: Volkov speaks with TsUP-Moscow about communication schedules. He also mentions the stand-by periods and also times for using the American channels. He then adds some domestic affairs: they already have eaten and drunken something. And everything is in good order. They only experience a low temperature. Especially in the descent module (SA) it is rather fresh. Kononenko says 17 a 20 degrees C. They also say something about the orientation of their ship in relation to the incoming sunlight, being very intens. Also SoYonYi makes a remark about that. But furthermore they do not have questions or wishes and they intended to have some rest.

10 April 2008: Docking day.

The first pass within my range of the ISS as well as the S-TMA12 was in orbit ISS 53785 between 1244 and 1250UTC.

From the S-TMA12 Volkov communicated with TsUP-Moscow. I was able to monitor this traffic via 3 channels:

Via the 121.750 mc, this was relayed via the 143.625 mc and also via NASA-TV. That relay was translated, but for me it was easier to listen to the direct transmission without translation. But for the last 7 minutes until and inclusive the docking (soft mate, for the Russians ‘kasaniye’) I needed NASA-TV. The docking took place at 1257UTC. And again Volkov presented himself as a stable person. The docking took place at the docking compartment Pirs and was executed automatically by the system Kurs. Volkov was ready to take over manually if Kurs should fail. He reported all details of the approach.

Both crews and the South-Korean lady have to perform a very busy program. Of the main expedition 16 Peggy Whitson and Yuriy Malenchenko prepare themselves for the return flight to Earth with the Soyuz-TMA11 and the new members of expedition 17, Volkov and Kononenko adapt themselves in their new role. They already often use the channel VHF-1 (143.625 mc).

Especially after the extension of the station with the European module Columbus, the freighter ATV and the upcoming Japanese module Kibo a crew of 3 persons (so including American Garrett Reisman) is too modest.

Until 19 April 2008 So Yon Yi, the Koran woman astronaut is busy with her experiments in the framework of the KAP (Korean Astronaut Program). Immediately after her arrival in the ISS she started with that program. She coordinates this with her Korean experts in TsUP-Moscow for which she uses the VHF-1. Within our range she can be heard regularly in good English. The contact she establishes herself is in good Russian.

On 11, 12 and 13 April 2008 she spoke in English about some experiments. These discussions were very detailed. South-Korean radio amateurs get my audio-recordings of these contacts. PD0RKC relayes these recordings to South-Korea.

Chris van den Berg, NL-9165.

SpaceRef staff editor.