ARISS Volunteer Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, Named Member of the Order of Australia

06/24/2020

Veteran Amateur Radio on the International Radio Station (ARISS) volunteer Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, has been honored as a Member of the Order of Australia in Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Honours List. Hutchison was recognized “For significant service to amateur radio, particularly to satellite and space communication.” The Australian Government’s Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet noted that Hutchison is one of 10 official ARISS telebridge stations to the International Space Station, as well as a HamTV ground station.

Hutchison’s station has served as the ham radio contact point for ISS crew members to speak with schools and groups on Earth via ham radio, when a contact location is not within the footprint of an ISS pass. The students connect via a teleconference line from their school to the telebridge station, and then with the astronaut using ham radio.

Hutchison provided communication support for contacts with Australian astronaut Andy Thomas, VK5JAT/VK5MIR, during Thomas’s tour on the Russian Mir space station, and he enabled the first school contact with Mir in 1993. As part of ARISS, he helped 65 schools prepare for ARISS contacts and used his telebridge station for 58 ARISS contacts throughout the world. He is a member of AMSAT-VK.

“Tony’s been an ARISS mentor for years, and was lead of Australia’s mentors,” ARISS-International Secretary Rosalie White, K1STO, said. “He enjoyed talking to the Mir crews long before.” White said that Hutchison, who is in his early 80s, remains involved in the ARISS program. Licensed in 1960, Hutchison became interested in satellite communication in 1965 with OSCAR-3.

“Although I received the honour, I would like to share it with all team members I work with,” Hutchison said. “If it wasn’t for the work that all the ARISS-International volunteers do, this award would never have been given.”

An investiture ceremony is tentatively set for this fall.    

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