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Listening to NASA Astronauts


mooeypoo
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Hi guys

 

I've heard that it's possible to listen to the communication going back and forth from NASA Astronauts in space and to their base on earth.

 

If this is true.. please explain where and how this can be done? It's very intriguing..

 

~moo

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Any communication sent over the electromagnetic spectrum, in 'open' air, from radar to high frequency mobile phone and wi-fi signals can be intercepted. However depending on the importance of the communication, there are varying levels to which the signals are encrpyted.

 

I should imagine NASA's delusions of granduer would mean these messages are scrambled quiet effectively and thus simply tuning your reciever to the right frequency wouldn't yield much more than noise.

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Yeah I know how RF works, and I know about encryption.

 

I heard, however, that the communication isn't encrypted, and that NASA Enthusiasts around the world actually do listen to it..

 

So I was wondering if perhaps I can too :)

 

~moo

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Ahh, I tried googling it and failed.. probably didn't search for the right thing.

 

Awwwww.. so no option to listen to actual shuttle comms? I've watched this documentary about Columbia's final mission and at some point they were telling about a specific comment passing through the comm that the person on the ground found to be not really a good place to be talked about (something about personal-life issues) and he said there that it was because 'half the world was listening'.. I was HOPING that this was an approval that if you have the right frequency you actually CAN listen to those commlines.. was I wrong?

 

~moo

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You can also hear a lot of exchanges on NASA TV, that you can find via satellite and some cable and also streaming live on NASA.gov. When the last astronaut freaked out on mission control over the tiles, it went over live, so it's pretty uncut.

 

NASA TV also shows ISS Mission coverage every day. It's good tv, I like it. I'm down with NASA.

 

The next launch is scheduled for: July 1.

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Hi guys

 

I've heard that it's possible to listen to the communication going back and forth from NASA Astronauts in space and to their base on earth.

 

If this is true.. please explain where and how this can be done? It's very intriguing..

 

~moo

 

Hi Mooeypoo,

 

I see you're located in New York. Please let me know around what area. I can reachout to my Ham Radio buddies and see if they know a repeater that re-broadcast the transmissions.

 

I am a Ham Radio Operator and have had to pleasure of directly talking to astronauts while on the Space Shuttle (SAREX) and on board the ISS. I even spoke to the cosmonauts on the MIR space station! Basically anyone can do this,but you need to be a FCC licensed Amateur Radio Operator and you need to have some basic equipment (nothing too complicated). Some fun times and awesome QSL cards (these are cards that Ham Radio Operators exchange..kinda like post cards, but with our callsigns and neat graphics/pictures..the NASA ones are great). There are region specific uplink and downlink frequencies within the Amateur Radio allotted bands, and can be readily found on the ARISS website.

 

Some of the radio clubs re-broadcast the Shuttle transmissions. On Long Island the Larkfield Amateur Radio Club does this on their 145.430 MHz repeater. A simple scanner you can get at Radio Shack will allow you to listen in. This is your best bet.

 

During my contacts with the SS, ISS and MIR I only had a window of about 7 minutes. I was receiving on regular vertical and trasmitting on a vertically polarized, horizontally rotatable 4 element beam not capable of azimuth tracking. So a very short time to get in! Also use to exchange "emails" on a regular basis with the cosmonauts..as they had an "electronic mail box aka TNC) connected to their ham radio. (yeah..i'm old..and i've been a Ham a long long time..before nocode! ).

 

You can listen directly to Shuttle, ISS communications however the problem is that its usually a narrow window of time that these birds are above the horizon, maybe about 10 minutes..if that. So you won't get to hear the whole gist. Also you probably won't hear the uplink, just the downlink, so the conversation could be just one-sided on the bird side. There are free satellite tracking programs on the internet where you can type in the Kelps, thus you know when the shuttle withing hearing range.

I think you can find tracking info on the NASA website.

 

Propagation conditions can hinder HF reception, especially now that the sunspot cycle its at lowest in the 11 year cycle. And you need a shortwave radio (.5khz to 30 Mhz) and a decent antenna to capature those signals (a dipole is good).

 

Hope this helps..its some great listening and let me know what area you're around..I'll see what repeaters do the rebroad cast. Usually they're on 2 meters or 440 (the 70cm band).

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Well if you want to listen to re-broadcast on the Amateur Radio Repeaters, a scanner would be sufficient. Usually the repeaters are on the 2 meter band (144Mhz to 148Mhz) or on 70cm band (440Mhz to 450Mhz).

Also the uplinks and downlinks for regular coms, you can pick up on a scanner. (encryption is another story).

 

If you want to listen to rebroadcast below 50 Mhz, then you will need a shortwave radio. Usually the transmissions come from W5RRR group at Johnson Space Center.

 

But again, this time of the sunspot cycle, reception will be difficult. You may be able to copy it on some of the "night-time" HF frequencies, like 7 Mhz (40 meters) or maybe 3.8Mhz (80 meters). 14Mhz (20 meters) can be iffy, but I have had nighly contacts with guys on Diego Garcia (army base in Indian Ocean) and Isreal at the bottom of the cycle.

 

Good luck, you can get yourself a shortwave radio for a decent price at a Ham "swap and shop".

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I see you're located in New York. Please let me know around what area. I can reachout to my Ham Radio buddies and see if they know a repeater that re-broadcast the transmissions.

 

OH my gosh that would be awsome!!!

 

Let me just explain one thing: I LOVE THOSE THINGS but I'm so lame and have very very little knowledge, which explains my quite noobie questions.

 

I'm in brooklyn (close to coney island). How do I do that, though? What devices do I need? Whee this is so great!!! <jumps around>

 

yes.. I'll go relax, and deny myself further coffee cups ;)

 

Thanks!

 

~moo

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I am a Ham Radio Operator and have had to pleasure of directly talking to astronauts while on the Space Shuttle (SAREX) and on board the ISS.

 

You are my hero. Teach me how, and I shall worship you forever... I want to speak to them too!!! Heck.. I wanna be UP there.. but.. that.. would.. take.. a...while... :P

 

~moo

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Yes, I have a small portable shortwave radio with a 15-foot external antenna (not outdoors, but running along the wall). I've previously picked up Vietnamese and Belgian stations, as well as the Thai traffic report.

 

Ok Cap'n, indoors maybe a problem. Broadcast shortwave stations transmit alot of power (20Kw or more) and therefore even though there can be poor propagatin their signal can still make it through and they on AM, so that means the power output is constant.

On the other hand, the NASA rebroadcasts, at least on the Amateur side usually on USB (above 10Mhz) or LSB (below 10 Mhz) run perhaps 100 watts, Peak Envelope Power (PEP), that is they're probably running "barefoot". If they're running an amp, they'll probably run no more that 500 watts PEP. So, it may be a little difficult getting those sigs on an indoor antenna.

 

Ok moo, after talking to a repeater owning buddy of mine, we both agreed that the best repeater for your location would be the Larkfield one, which is located near Huntington, Long Island. As far as equipment, a scanner would work fine with an outdoor antenna (put a mag mount on your gutter or if you're in a building make sure you have the antenna towards to northeast as high as possible). The 147.000 MHz repeater on top of the Chrysler building use to retranmit broadcast a few years ago; although now the repeater is used for emergency communications for NYC, so you'll have to just plug it in and see they're still doing it.

 

As far a radio is concerned, a scanner will be fine (Radio-Shack, a hundred bucks..when you're done listening to the shuttle you can listen to the cops in your neighborhood, or boats, or whatever...NYPD patrol operations are still analog and not trunked)

 

I will keep you posted as their may be some radioclubs who will broadcast over the internet.

 

Happy listening!! or as we say..Good DX!

You may never make it up to space, but at least your voice can and you can still participate in space the space program!. Hams have a number of satelites in space as well and its kind of a cool hobby, if Satellite Comms becomes your thing.

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Would I sound extremely lame if I ask you guys how to start?

 

What do I need? What equipment, where to look up for groups to talk to and help me out, how to install it.. uhm.. concider this a 'help the noobie' project ;)

 

I understand I need a scanner, and an antenna and a transmitter, but.. where.. how.. who .. how do I purchase or make or.. bah where do I get those things, and what should I do to install them and use them properly?

 

thanks :)

 

~moo

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Moo,

 

Ok just a quick point, to LISTEN all you need is a SCANNER. since you mentioned transmitter.

 

You DO NOT need a transmitter (or transceiver). Although no one can stop you from acquiring one, you NEED A LICENSE issued by the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION. To transmit on Ham Radio frequencies without one is a violation of FEDERAL law.

 

Use your scanner to listen. If you decide you like ham radio, and you want to get into space/satellite communications then get a license and be prepared to spend some money.

 

Again, welcome to scanner listening. You may also want to check out "monitoring times" on the internet, or subscribed to "popular communications" magazine to learn more.

 

Also, since you're in Brookyn, there are a number of Amateur Radio clubs that can help you. LIMARC http://www.limarc.org

is the biggest in the area, and there is also nyc amateur radio emergency service group..http://www.nyc-ares.org

Send an email to them, there are plenty of hams there who would be willing to be an "Elmer" (teacher) to you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember in the early 80s, there was a phone number you could dial to listen in on the shuttle comms.

You would think it would be even easier to do that now with the internet, but I wonder if they stopped doing that because of military missions?

 

JM

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