Ham TV Lets You Video Chat With The International Space Station

NASA's Astronaut Mike Hopkins on a Ham TV Call with Earth ESA/NASA

Amateur radio fans have arranged a "ham TV" system from which people on Earth can get video and as well as sound from international space station. Astronauts on the space station, temporarily, are able to catch their Earth callers and answer.

In fact making the call takes a bit of preparation. The linking only works if the space station has a perfect line of sight. The lengthiest window of time a caller has is 20 minutes, and that's only if five handy ground stations are situated in just the right way. So unlike with ham radio, it would be difficult for anyone to call into the ISS at any time. Interested parties should contact the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station set, which helps set up calls for schoolrooms, museums and space campgrounds.

The ISS' orbit is fine inside range of radio waves. Whether an astronaut will collect at the time you call is another question. The ham TV hardware was designed by an Italian engineering company called Kayser Italia and accumulated by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station group. There's apparatus that's contained in the space station, plus ground apparatus and aerials. The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station group manages the aerials.

Ham TV Equipment On Board the ISS Kayser Italia

Ham TV Antenna on Earth ESA

On April 12, ISS staff set ham TV to take general calls. Up to now, it has tested its capabilities in a call between NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and ground stations in Italy.

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