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[jamsat-news:594] ANS SAREX Bulletin

SB SAT @ AMSAT  $ANS-201.06
STS-94 SAREX Mission Ends

BID: $ANS-201.06

On Thursday July 17 Commander Jim Halsell and pilot Susan Still guided
Space Shuttle Columbia to a perfect touch down at Kennedy Space Center at
10:47 a.m. UTC, ending the enormously successful flight of STS-94.
Columbia crossed over Baja California, northern Mexico, and the southern
tip of Texas before crossing out over the Gulf of Mexico, then swinging
southeast across the Florida peninsula to land at the Kennedy Space Center.
 Many AMSAT members witnessed the plasma trail and heard the sonic boom as
the Shuttle traversed across the Southern part on the U.S. on its way to
it's landing.  AMSAT-NA President Bill Tynan, W3XO, described the Plasma
Trail as "Really Bright with remants of the trail lasting for 2 minutes.
Shortly thereafter the sonic boom was heard."

The Shuttle Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX) payload was quite active on
this flight.  AMSAT Vice President for Manned Space Programs, Frank Bauer,
KA3HDO, stated "This mission was a tremendous shot in the arm for the SAREX
program.  We accomplished all we set out to do and acheived much more."  Of
particular note were the ship-to-ship contacts between the Shuttle Columbia
and Space Station MIR on July 5 and the 10 minute Shuttle to MIR contact on
Tuesday July 8.  This contact was patched to MIR by SAREX Principal
Investigator Matt Bordelon, KC5BTL at the NASA Johhnson Space Center
Amateur Radio Club and to the Shuttle via NASA's air-to-ground
communications link.  During the contact, the astronauts discussed the
docking of the Progress resupply vehicle to Mir, with Foale's Mir 23 crew
mate Alexander Lazutkin announcing that "Christmas had arrived."  Foale
also invited Columbia's crew over for a cup of tea, after a fresh supply
arrived on the Progress.  All these contacts got extensive press coverage.  

The STS-94 preliminary summary shows that the SAREX system was used to
complete nine personal contacts and 17 school contacts, a 100% completion
rate.  Over 194 student questions were addressed.  There were over 2,100
who witnessed the educational contacts.  Over 52 news media organizations
were represented.  All the schools were elated with their contacts.  David
Chang, BZ1BM, the technical point of contact at the Tsinghua University
contact in Beijing, China, stated:  "We are much too exciting now!! The
contact...was the first SAREX mission in China! I am sure you know...BY1QH,
are very proud of the great achievement...Thank you all!" 

There was one test contact made with W5RRR, one Mir air-to-ground patch
performed for the MSL-1 crew, and two Columbia-to-Mir ship-to-ship
contacts.  In amateur radio tradition, there was a not-so-trivial work
around performed on orbit by astronaut Susan Still to replace a missing
cable required to maintain packet radio operations.  

There were over 500 random contacts made between the crew members and
individual hams around the world, based on about 25 shifts and about 20
contacts averaged per shift at midflight.  The packet radio QRZ and QSL
counts are forthcoming and will be forwarded to the sarex@amsat.org
reflector in the near future.  

Those wishing to glean more information on this SAREX flight are welcome to
visit the SAREX Web Page at http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/sarex/sarex_mainpage.html

An archive of SAREX bulletins from previous missions is found at

This was the 24th mission to carry SAREX.

[Information for this Bulletin provided by Frank Bauer, KA3HDO and Pat
Kilroy, WD8LAQ]