ISS Mail Delivery 

(by Bruce Cranford)

I received this information from a friend at NASA. This is not to be
interpreted as an official NASA position. The issue of mail to the ISS
may be a continuing issue.

"....there are no normal mail deliveries, and none are planned. Weight
is just too expensive get to orbit to allow real mail. Of course,
certain books, personal letters and the like are asked for or sent from
family in logistics flights, but that is not "mail" as the term in
generally understood. It is packaged and sent as are supplies and
"Second, the crew does have access to e-mail, but they do not have
regular access to the internet or have web addresses. Instead, e-mail
that friends, family or coworkers wish to send to the crew is sent to
the ISS Flight Director or CAPCOM (used to be the Capsule Communicator,
in days of yore), and it is then forwarded up through dedicated and
encrypted channels. I have absolutely no idea how or if the e-mail is
reviewed or screened before it is sent."
"....the ISS crew will not be able to get mail, electronic or not, from
the general public in the foreseeable future."
"...when living in space becomes a bit more normal and not limited to a
handful on individuals that situation will have to change, but I don't
think that will be very soon."


On the same subject is Gordon Ducote's message of 11/15/2000
Private mail, i.e. non-postal, is currently only allowed to be sent from
family members and is sent on Progress and Shuttle flights. Weight and
volume are extremely critical on these early ISS flights. E-mail to the
crew is also currently only possible to be sent from within the ISS
community and is under very tight control. Eventually, however, the rules
will probably soften to allow public access for schools, science
investigators, etc., but that's probably a year or so away. Also, we
activated the Ham Radio system on Monday (I actually got to talk directly to
Shep-Wow!!) and will soon be allowed for pre-planned public access. NASA
and RSC-Energia are still working on the rules for Ham access.

That said, the Russian side does allow philatelic souvenir items on their
flights, but getting them agreed to and packaged properly, etc. is very,
very difficult. There were some on ISS flight 1R (Zvezda Service Module
carried 20 covers) and some on the recent ISS flight 2R (Soyuz with first
Expedition crew). The 1R covers were returned on STS-106 and (it is
planned that) the 2R covers will be returned on the upcoming STS-97. NASA
policy currently prohibits philatelic material from being launched on STS
flights. There were no philatelic items on the first Progress (ISS flight
1P) and none on the 2P launch least, to my knowledge, as these
items are usually not formally manifested.

The only public avenue, that I know of, to even ASK to have something flown
on a Russian flight would be to send it to RSC-Energia, attn: Mr. Valery
Ryumin. But, don't expect a response in this lifetime.


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Last modified on 2001, February 20.