From the ARRL Letter... The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station--or ARISS--international partners are meeting this weekend at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The three-day session will update current status of the ARISS program and attempt to map its future direction. Expected to be on hand will be ARISS delegates from the US, Russia, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Japan and Italy, in addition to representatives of NASA, AMSAT-NA, TAPR and the Mir Amateur Radio EXperiment group, MAREX-NA. Space Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX) Working Group Chairman Roy Neal, K6DUE, will serve as meeting moderator. ARISS rules and bylaws development and ratification tops the list of discussion items this weekend. The Expedition 1 crew of Commander William "Shep" Shepherd, KD5GSL, and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and Yuri Gidzenko has been aboard the ISS since November 2. With about three months left in its tour of duty, the crew has been extremely busy with its normal work schedule. Crew members did take time in mid-November to check out the initial amateur station gear aboard the ISS. On November 17, Shepherd enjoyed a few casual QSOs with earthbound hams. ARISS spokesman Will Marchant, KC6ROL, says the crew has used Amateur Radio for personal contacts with family members but that crew members have been too pressed for time to engage in casual contacts. In addition, the shuttle Endeavour launched November 30 carrying huge solar arrays to the ISS. Marchant said he hopes ARISS can ramp up the level of school and casual contacts after the first of the year. A tentative schedule of school contacts is pending. The topic of future contacts between ISS crew members and students is on the agenda for this weekend's meeting. The delegates will look at how school contacts can be smoothly integrated into the ISS crew schedules and how often they will occur. They'll also attempt to come up with an equitable system for the international partners to select schools for ARISS QSOs. ARISS delegates also will be looking ahead to the next phase of Amateur Radio hardware on the ISS. Right now, the initial station gear consists of low-power VHF and UHF hand-held transceivers. As currently configured aboard the Zarya Functional Cargo Block, the gear provides 2-meter FM and packet capability, although the packet system has not yet been activated. Marchant said ARISS needs to make sure the packet system operation will not interfere with the regular 143-MHz communication channel between the ISS and Earth. Marchant says the most immediate and pressing hardware projects are to install the German "digitalker" system and to move ahead with a plan to deploy Slow-Scan TV aboard the ISS. A German proposal to upgrade the initial station gear with a so-called "transportable station" mobile transceiver offering more power and flexibility also will come under scrutiny. Deployment of the next phase of ARISS gear probably will not happen until 2002, Marchant said. More information about ARISS and SAREX, is at http://ariss.gsfc.nasa.gov/.