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[jamsat-news:1134] * SpaceNews 09-Aug-99 *
SB NEWS @ AMSAT $SPC0809
* SpaceNews 09-Aug-99 *
MONDAY AUGUST 9, 1999
* STS-93 SAREX SUMMARY *
The flight of the Space Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) on STS-93
marked the end of an era. Ham Radio first started when Owen Garriot,
W5LFL, carried amateur radio hardware on the STS-9 mission. Since
then, SAREX has flown 25 times on board the space shuttle.
The hardware configuration on STS-93 was a Motorola 2-meter handheld
transceiver, a packet TNC, and an experimental Digital Signal
Processor (DSP). SAREX was intended to work on the space shuttle
orbiter Columbia's internal power bus, but battery packs were
flown for SAREX as a backup. More information on the SAREX
operations on STS-93 is available at:
More information about SAREX is available at the SAREX home page at:
The STS-93 crew had expressed a lot of interest in amateur radio
operations. Their operations plan was to leave the packet rig
active during their sleep time. This plan meshed well with the
STS-93 orbit. The Shuttle's low 28 degree inclination orbit limited
the quality of passes for those at high latitudes. The daytime passes,
with the crew operating on voice, would occur over the Western hemisphere.
The crew sleep periods tended to occur over the Eastern hemisphere.
The packet TNC was configured for the usual SAREX robot mode of operations.
This returns a unique serial number to the ham who successfully completes
a complete connect/disconnect AX25 packet connection. In addition, Bob
Bruninga and the APRS working group developed a set of recommendations
for using the STS-93 SAREX configuration for APRS digipeating.
STS-93 got off to a rocky start after two failed launch attempts.
A fuel leak during lift off resulted in Columbia reaching a lower
orbit than planned. This caused mission controllers in Houston
extra work when they had to re-plan experiments to compensate for
the different orbit.
Initial setup of the SAREX hardware was delayed due to problems with
the orbiter power bus. The SAREX antenna also proved to be a source
of problems. Shuttle command Eileen Collins spent a great deal of time
debugging the configuration. She was able to solve the power problems
and retuned the SAREX antenna in a different window.
Five schools were scheduled to speak with the STS-93 crew via amateur
radio. These were:
AWTY International School, Houston Tx.
Buzz Aldrin Elementary School, Reston, VA.
Harbor View Elementary School, Corona Del Mar, CA.
Memorial Middle School, Pharr, Tx.
Osceola Elementary School, Ormond Beach, Fl.
The first school contact for STS-93, the Buzz Aldrin Elementary School,
was scheduled for little more than a day after launch. The Buzz Aldrin
contact was not successful, with very low down link audio signal from
the orbiter. Shuttle commander Eileen Collins heard the school quite
clearly. Commander Collins retuned the antenna which was then used
for a very successful QSO for shuttle pilot Ashby.
The Harbor View Elementary School contact went very well, but the
Awty International school contact was very poor and not successful.
The Osceola Elementary school and the Memorial Middle School had great
contacts on the first try. There was a very successful conversation
between the cosmonauts in the space station MIR and the astronauts
on Columbia which was possible because of amateur radio. The orbits
of the shuttle and MIR did not permit a direct contact between the
two using amateur radio. The W5RRR club station at the Johnson Space
Station was used to establish a Ham link with the MIR station, the
club station was then tied into the shuttle communications network.
After a lot of planning by shuttle mission controllers the two failed
school attempts were rescheduled for late in the shuttle mission.
Both Buzz Aldrin and Awty International Schools were successful
on the second attempt.
There were few reports of general QSO activity on STS-93. The
problems with the orbiter hardware and the very busy schedule of
this short mission preempted much of the voice QSO activity. Other
experiments on the orbiter required it to be pointing out into deep
space, away from the earth. This made it very difficult for both
general voice and packet connections.
Individuals who made two-way radio contact with Columbia or simply
copied Columbia's downlink signal are eligible for an STS-93 SAREX
QSL card. QSLs or reception reports may be sent to:
American Radio Relay League
225 Main Street
Newington, Connecticut, 06111
Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your QSL.
QSLs are expected to be ready in no earlier than six months.
The tremendous success of amateur radio on the space shuttle and MIR
has resulted in very strong support from the professional human space
flight community. Because of this amateur radio has a permanent place
on board the International Space Station (ISS). More information is
[Info via AMSAT News Service Bulletin 212 and KK5DO]
* SOLAR ECLIPSE WEDNESDAY *
Bill, VK3JT reports that according to his predictions, NOAA-14 will
track across the middle-east during Wednesday's solar eclipse and may
well pass directly over the point of totality. Stations in that part
of the world will have a great opportunity to get an unusual if not
Richard, G3RWL, passed along a report suggesting that since there is
a pass of Mir scheduled over southern Europe at about the same time as
the eclipse, a visual sighting of Mir may be possible during this daytime
period. Richard suggests that anyone planning to watch the eclipse from
a point in or near totality might care to plot Mir's path beforehand and
make an occasional observation to see if Mir makes an appearance.
* FEEDBACK/INPUT WELCOMED *
Comments and input for SpaceNews should be directed to the editor
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