ISS APRS packet and FM repeater is OUT OF SERVICE

Thursday, January-28-2021 Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, ARISS-USA Executive Director, issued the following statement.

Today was a tough one for ARISS.  Let me explain.

As you all know, an EVA (spacewalk) was conducted yesterday to install cabling on the exterior of Columbus module. During the EVA, our current external antenna coaxial cable (for APRS and FM repeater), installed in 2009, was replaced with another one built by ESA/Airbus with four RF connectors included, as compared to the current 2 RF connections. This change was made to allow ESA to connect ARISS and 3 additional customers to Bartolomeo, as compared to ARISS and one additional RF customer.

This morning, the crew restarted the radio system. Not hearing any Voice Repeater reports, we requested a switch to APRS packet.  We still did not hear any downlink reports.  At 17:46 UTC we had a planned ARISS school contact between our certified telebridge station ON4ISS, operated by Jan in Belgium, and Mike Hopkins on ISS. No downlink signal was heard during the contact. The crew radioed down < NO JOY >, and the Newcastle High School, Wyoming, USA contact attempt ended.

Clearly, there is an issue. More troubleshooting will be required. It may be the new external RF cable that was installed during yesterday’s EVA. It might also be from the connect and disconnect of the interior coaxial (RF) cable. The crew took pictures of the coaxial cable and connector attached to the ARISS radio inside the ISS. Because the exterior cable is a Bartolomeo cable and not an ARISS cable, we are working with ESA and NASA on a way forward. NASA has opened a Payload Anomaly Report on this issue.  We have talked to both the NASA and ESA representatives. These are the same folks that worked with us on previous ARISS hardware systems as well as the ESA Bartolomeo integration initiative. We have also asked our Russian team lead, Sergey Samburov, if we can temporarily use the radio in the Service Module for school contacts until we are able to resolve this issue.

About the new ARISS transceiver, FM repeater, here

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