Amateur Radio Packet/Email on ISS

One of the ISS-Ham projects is called Packet.  The Packet system allows Amateur Radio stations to send and receive Email messages to and from ISS over an Amateur Radio channel.  The original packet module was from the company called PacComm.  The packet module was enclosed in a special aluminum box.  Inside this box, is a power supply and the packet modem.  The PacComm packet system supports 1200 baud email called Packet Mail and other modes. For more information on the packet system please check the How to use the ISS packet system page.  The first Packet module was delivered to ISS via the STS-106 Shuttle September 2000 and was activated a few months later.  Upon activation it was discovered that the Memory battery in the packet modem had failed and many of the configuration parameters including the radio call sign were erased.  The packet system was still usable as digital data repeater (Unproto or Round Table Mode), however the Email portion was never activated.  A year later a replacement second Packet system was delivered to ISS.  The new packet system had all of the critical parameters burned into the systems ROM, which would prevent the problems we had with the original packet system.  The new packet also supported both Russian and ASCII font sets.  The second packet system was used extensively throughout 2002, especially during Valery Korzuns Mission.  Valery was very active in sending packet email to people on earth.

Packet Mail from ISS

After Korzuns mission, the second packet system suffered a data corruption problem, which caused the packet system to lock up after 24 hours of usage.  Due to the heavy ISS crew work load and the low priority of the ISS-Ham system, the ISS crews were never given permission to reload the Packet software or try to debug the problem.  The second packet system on ISS was only active for approximately 5 days during all of 2003.  A back up plan was put into place to use the packet modem which is built into the Kenwood D700 radio.  The new D700 was activated in December 2003.

How to use ISS packet


July 2001, Susan Helms

This shows the first Packet module.  If you look closely you can see the words AMSAT going Horizontally across the center of the white packet box. This indicates this is the First packet module, which had a bad memory battery.

Aug 2002 Sergei Y. Treschev

This shows the second Packet module. The AMSAT logo is now across the bottom of the Packet module.  This module was used extensively until December 2002.

The packet modem is inside the white box in the middle of the picture.  This box also houses the power supply for the Ericcson radio on the Left.  The head set is an aviation grade from the company David Clark.. The packet modem is inside the white box in the foreground of the picture.  This box also houses the power supply for the Ericcson radio. Also show is the PTT switch (small white box), Ericcson radio and David Clark headset.




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