The Space Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX)


The Space Amateur Radio EXperiment

With the help of Amateur Radio clubs and ham radio operators, space shuttle astronauts have been speaking over the ham airwaves while in orbit.

They are talking directly with large groups of general puplic, showing teachers, students, parents and communities how amateur radio energizes youngsters about science, technology, and learning.

The program is called SAREX, the Space Amateur Radio EXperiment.

SAREX is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League ARRL, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation AMSAT, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA

Amateur Radio has been a regular payload on Shuttle missions since STS-9 in November 1983, when Owen Garriott, W5LFL, carried a hand-held ham radio aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. SAREX provides students with the unique opportunity to talk directly with astronauts in the Shuttle while they orbit the Earth traveling 17,000 miles per hour. With the help of Amateur Radio operators, students can attempt to contact the astronauts flying on a SAREX mission through voice, packet (computer) radio, or television, depending on which equipment configuration the Shuttle takes into space. Through voice contact students may ask questions about the experiments being conducted on the mission and what it is like living in space. When astronauts are asleep, a robot computer Amateur Radio station aboard the Shuttle makes contact with hundreds of hams (another name for amateur radio operators) around the world. Classes can track the Shuttle's orbit using computer software, "eavesdrop" on Shuttle communications, and listen to NASA Mission Commentary and bulletins about astronaut- planned transmissions.

Astronauts who are licensed ham radio operators participate in SAREX during their tree-time on missions, to make contact with students around the world, exciting them about space, science, and technology.

Interested schools can contact the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) for SAREX lesson materials. Teachers can easily introduce SAREX into their schools by contacting the ARRL Educational Activities Department (EAD) for a list of local ham radio clubs willing to help. These clubs may also assist schools to submit applications to ARRL EAD for scheduled radio contacts with astronauts on future Shuttle flights.

The ARRL, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), and NASA sponsor SAREX. AMSAT heads the technical operations and receives support from hundreds of Amateur Radio operators who work behind the scenes in NASA's amateur radio clubs at the Johnson Space Center , Marshall Space Flight Center , Goddard Space Flight Center . The American Radio League Educational Activities Department (ARRL EAD) and NASA's Education Division create lesson plans and resource materials for teachers.

For general information on the SAREX program, see the Sarex main page and our page with Sarex related links