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Subject: * SpaceNews 15-Dec-97 *
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* SpaceNews 15-Dec-97 *

BID: $SPC1215


                        MONDAY DECEMBER 15, 1997

SpaceNews originates at KD2BD in Wall Township, New Jersey, USA.  It
is published every week and is made available for non-commercial use.

On December 17/18, 1997 the mini-satellite INSPECTOR is scheduled to perform
several fly-arounds of MIR and PROGRESS.  Live video will be made available
on the Internet.

Basically, INSPECTOR can be described as a free-flying, remote-controlled
video camera.  It is an experimental testbed for servicing platforms designed
to support the construction of the future International Space Station.

More information is available on the World Wide Web at the following URL:


A new KAM dual mode packet radio terminal node controller (TNC) that was
recently sent to Mir from the MIREX team was tested on-board Mir last week.
The new TNC supports both 1200 as well as 9600 baud connections, and has a
message buffer size of 100 kilobytes -- substantially larger than that of
the PacComm TNC previously in use.  9600 baud communications will be
delayed until a suitable cable wired up and installed.

[Info via Dr. Dave Larsen, N6CO]

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A quarter-century after its launch, Pioneer 10 is still
helping astronomers explore the universe, but the little spacecraft is
slowly fading from radio contact and will be beyond the reach of even
the most sensitive antenna by Christmas next year.

"It will be kind of like losing an old friend," says John D. Anderson, a
Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist who helped build Pioneer 10.

Since its launch, six presidents have held office, wars have been fought
and ended, the Soviet empire has crumbled, and astronauts who walked the
moon have become old men.  But Pioneer 10 is like that famous battery
bunny -- it's still going.

Anderson, who watched Pioneer 10's launch in March 2, 1972, said the little
spacecraft is now more than 6 billion miles from Earth, farther than any
other machine ever.  It is still streaking away at a speed of more than a
half-million miles a day.

NASA scientists stopped sending instructions to Pioneer 10 earlier this
year because its return signal was too weak to give clear data.  The
distance was so great that it took nine hours for a signal to reach the
craft.  But Anderson said Pioneer 10 can still send back a carrier wave,
sort of a radio hum that lets the Earth know it's okay.

Anderson said NASA, using a 70-meter dish antenna designed for deep space
communications, made the last contact on 30-Nov-97.

"It is still quite healthy," said Anderson.  "It's just that the power
source is so weak that you can't receive the data from scientific

All contact will be lost next year, he said, when the craft moves beyond
the range of even the most sensitive equipment.  The signal will fade and
finally become undetectable.

"I've made a career of Pioneer 10 and will miss it," said Anderson.  "It
will be like losing something that you have a very personal attachment to.
It's kind of like losing an old friend."

Pioneer 10 was launched as the first probe to Jupiter.  After a close-up
study of the giant planet, it was accelerated by the slingshot effect
of Jupiter's gravity and gained enough speed to leave the solar system.
Since then, it has moved past the orbits of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto,
exited the solar system in 1983 and is now in what astronomers called
the Kuipper Belt.  To Pioneer 10, the sun is only a bright star.

A nuclear heater supplies power to Pioneer 10, and Anderson said the
atomic element will continue to work for hundreds of years.  In about
30,000 years, he said, the spacecraft will approach another star.

Anderson said the nation got "a bargain" from Pioneer 10's $100 million
cost.  It lasted far longer than expected and NASA has built up an extensive
library of deep-space data from the craft.

"It will continue to benefit science for decades," he said.  "All of that
data has been archived and is available to anyone."

The Pioneer 10 data, he said, are enabling him and two other scientists
to challenge the announced discovery of a planet that is said to orbit a
pulsar star 1,200 light-years away.

Anderson said that by comparing the radio energy from the star and Pioneer
10, researchers found evidence that radiation from the sun was causing the
radio waves to change slightly every 25 days.  He said this change matched
the rotation of the sun.  This suggested that data interpreted by other
researchers as evidence that a small planet orbited the distant pulsar may
have been in error.

The electronic blip thought to represent a planet may, in fact, be caused
by solar radiation, said Anderson.

Alexander Wolszczan of Pennsylvania State University, co-discover of that
distant planet, said he still believes the planet is really there and that
new studies will confirm that it is.

But he said he was delighted that Pioneer 10 was "still alive and doing
well" and still helping out astronomers.

"It shows there is still some interesting science that can be done with
Pioneer 10," said Wolszczan.

[Info via Paul Recer of the Associated Press]

Bob Argyle, KB7KCL reports that WEBERSAT-OSCAR-18 is gathering and sending
Whole Orbit Data.  The PHOTO task is being uploaded and the command team
hopes to have pictures and spectra by about the 12th of December.  WO-18's
return to service is suspected to be seasonal in nature.  Bob sends thanks
to all those who have sent telemetry received from WO-18.

The following is the operating schedule for the FUJI-OSCAR-29 communication

12-Dec-97 at 08:11 UTC : Mode JD 9600
19-Dec-97 at 08:49 UTC : Digitalker
26-Dec-97 at 07:42 UTC : Mode JA
09-Jan-98 at 07:14 UTC : Mode JD 1200
16-Jan-98 at 07:52 UTC : Mode JD 9600
23-Jan-98 at 08:30 UTC : Mode JA
30-Jan-98 at 07:24 UTC : Mode JD 1200

[Info via Kazu Sakamoto, JJ1WTK]

NASA recently named the first team members to live and work aboard the
International Space Station, and four crew members already hold amateur
radio operator's licenses.  In addition, several of the crew members are
studying for their licenses.

The first crew will consist of American astronaut William M. Shepherd,
as the expedition commander.  Shepherd is currently studying for his
license.  He'll be accompanied by Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and
Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR.  The crew is training for an early 1999 launch
and a planned five-month mission on the ISS.

The second crew, headed by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachev, R3MIR, will
include US astronauts Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, and James S. Voss, who's
indicated an interest in getting his ham license.

No licensed hams are among the third crew, which will be headed by
astronaut Kenneth Bowersox and will include Russian crewmates Vladimir
Dezhurov and Mikahil Turin.  Bowersox also has said he'd like to get his
ham license.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Onufrienko will head the fourth crew. US
astronauts Carl Walz, KC5TIE, and Daniel Bursch will accompany him.

AMSAT-NA's VP of Manned Space, Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, reports that the
international team developing the ISS ham radio station is now working
hard to incorporate a transportable ham station for ISS, and deliver
this equipment to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for flight
certification in June, 1998.  Initially, ISS crews will inhabit the service
module, which will include a ham radio antenna, with ham gear scheduled to
be delivered aboard the STS-96 shuttle flight.  Microsat/repeater payloads
are tentatively scheduled to arrive in early 2002, expanding ham radio
capability aboard the station.

[Info via the AMSAT News Service]

Comments and input for SpaceNews should be directed to the editor (John,
KD2BD) via any of the paths listed below:

WWW       : http://www.njin.net/~magliaco/
INTERNET  : kd2bd@amsat.org, magliaco@email.njin.net

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