for Wireless Business
Full-Scale Operation of Amateur Radio Station Using Kenwood's Devices Begins on the International Space Station
High Reliability, Functionality and Operability as well as Past Use in the MIR Space Station Keys to Selection
This is to notify that the amateur radio station aboard the International Space Station has begun the full-scale use of Kenwood Corporation's (President and CEO: Haruo Kawahara; Head Office: Hachioji, Tokyo; hereafter referred to as "Kenwood") amateur radio devices.
History Behind the Selection of Kenwood's Wireless Devices Aboard the International Space Station
Amateur radio broadcasts between the International Space Station (hereafter referred to as the "ISS") and the earth is authorized because it helps to not only maintain an astronaut's mental health in a specialized work environment (space) but it also acts as a tool to educate children about space and communications. To become authorized, however, the safety features and the materials of any item brought on board the ISS must first be cleared by Russia's Energia and the US's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This is to prevent accidents relating to fire and toxic gases from occurring on-board the ISS. Moreover, devices that are designed to discharge heat using natural convection cannot be used because the ISS is in a zero-gravity environment. Kenwood's wireless devices not only met these standards but were selected for use in Russia's MIR Space Station. This history as well as the high reliability, functionality and operability of the device was recognized by ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station), the body responsible for the development and operation of the amateur radio station on the ISS. For this reason, Kenwood's devices were selected as the device-of-choice for the ISS.
The device being used on the ISS amateur radio station is a modified version of the "TM-D700E". This product, which is available on the market, is highly advanced but easy to use, even for astronauts who may have no prior experience using amateur radios. The ISS is equipped with only one of these devices but 14 more of the same device are also installed in a replica ISS on the ground as well as space centers in Russia and the US. These additional devices are used to support the operation of the new wireless system in orbit. In addition, astronauts and ARISS members train on these devices to get a feel for what the system can do. All 15 of the devices were provided free-of-charge by Kenwood.
The device on-board the ISS was carried by the Progress Space Freighter on August 29th, 2003. The freighter was launched on a Soyuz Transport Rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Before the full-scale operation of the device, it went through a series of checks and test-runs to ensure that it would work properly in space.
The Relationship Between the International Space Center and Amateur Radio
The ISS is a manned facility which flies approximately 400km above the earth's surface. It can do one orbit around the earth in approximately 90 minutes. Its primary uses will be for the observation of space and earth as well as a laboratory for various tests and experiments. This joint-undertaking by the US, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada, began construction in 1998 and is set for completion in 2008.
NASA and the space agencies of the various participating countries approved the use of amateur radio as a way of maintaining the mental health of the three astronauts who will be staying in three to four months rotations on the ISS (currently two astronauts are staying on the ISS on a six-month interim rotation). In addition, the agencies thought that this system would be an effective way to educate children on earth about the wonders of space and wireless communication. Currently, the development and operation of the amateur radio station facility on-board the ISS is the responsibility of the ARISS project, a group comprising of amateur radio operators from participating countries.
Kenwood's Amateur Radio Business
Kenwood's Communication Business, along with its Home Electronics Business, has the longest history among all of the Company's lines of businesses. In December 1946, the Kasuga Radio Co., Ltd. (a forerunner to the Kenwood Corporation) was established to manufacture high-frequency coils and other radio components. This company eventually evolved into a developer and manufacturer of FM tuners and amateur radios. Although Kenwood's Communication Business is currently focused mainly on professional radio devices, it used to be that the business revolved around amateur radio devices. In those days, these devices were highly regarded by amateur radio users and this performance led to the selection of the TM-733A for the MIR Space Station in 1995. Since then, the rise in popularity of the mobile phone has led to the shrinking of the amateur radio market. Despite this, Kenwood continues to develop innovative amateur radio devices such as the Visual Communicator (VC-H1), a device introduced in 1998 that made bi-directional transmittal of still images possible over amateur radio devices. In addition, Kenwood introduced the Telephone Interface (KTI-12) also in 1998, a device that made communication between amateur radio devices and public telephones possible. More recently (February 2003), we introduced the TS-480, a compact HF/50MHz band all-mode transceiver that is equipped with features comparable to large-class transceivers. This device is already making waves in the amateur radio world.
The type of transmissions that astronauts will carry out on-board the ISS using the amateur radio device is as follows:
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