Russians Sending Photos from Space over Radio

There is possibly some Russian interference on its way! What an interesting start to a story idea, or at least a decent conspiracy theory. Pretty sure it's been done before, but that doesn't mean it can't be done again, differently.

This is where my overwhelming abundance of ideas comes from. They start with a general curiosity that leads to my finding out something interesting that I didn't know. But first, space.

It turns out Russian cosmonauts are considering sending some pictures from the International Space Station via amateur radio to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz test project. There's some confusion over whether or not it's planned, but the possibility led me to learn how to access the messages, which made me figure out when the ISS will be flying overhead next. For St. Croix, we'll get a pass on August 5th at 8:46 p.m. from the north northwest. And don't worry Dallas, I got ya covered. It will actually pass you by on its very next orbit. You'll be able to see it if you look northwest at 9:18 p.m. The rest of you can check out to find out when astronauts will hurtle across your sky.

If they do end up transmitting photos, they'll be doing it over something called SSTV, or Slow Scan Television. If you want to learn how to receive and translate the messages, check out this video. No, you don't have to be a licensed ham operator like yours truly (but it's pretty easy to get your license, and you learn some cool stuff).

What does this have to do with my writing? Not one damn linear thing.


Good thing ideas aren't linear! I've learned that mine come when I get curious about learning something. As for ham radio, I owe this curiosity to the Red Cross Disaster Services team that I recently began volunteering for. They mentioned on a briefing call that amateur radio operators were very important when phones and internet are down, so I looked into it. Then I found out astronauts still use ham radio to communicate from the ISS and I was sold.


I have no idea how this information will make it into a story, but it will at some point. So, if you're stuck on spawning fresh ideas, try learning something new that sounds interesting to you. You never know where it might lead.