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[jamsat-news:782] * SpaceNews 02-Mar-98 *

* SpaceNews 02-Mar-98 *

BID: $SPC0302


			  MONDAY MARCH 2, 1998

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

It has been nearly a year since the last SAREX school group talked to
an astronaut on Mir.  Since that time, the amateur radio community has
witnessed (through the Mir ham radio link) the collision between the 12
year old Mir space station and the Progress resupply ship in June and
recovery operations by the various Mir crewmembers.  Until recently, the
Mir crew's full attention has been focused on recovery from the collision
and restarting the scientific investigations that were abruptly stopped
after the accident.

Monday, 23-Feb-98 marked a new era for the Mir Space Station: The return
of SAREX school group contacts.  On the morning of the 23rd at about
7:30 AM PST (15:30 UTC), six youngsters from the Shell Beach Elementary
School in Pismo Beach, CA, made a successful contact with Astronaut Andy
Thomas on the Mir space station.  The students were in grades 1 through 6
and were able to ask Andy a total of 10 questions during the approximately
ten minute contact.

The Shell Beach School has been on the contact list for some time and they
were originally scheduled to talk to astronaut Jerry Linenger last April,
but due to technical difficulties on Mir, the contact was postponed until
now.  The school had about a weeks notice of the impending contact.  During
the week, the children scrambled and practiced several times, getting their
performance just right.  After the session with Andy, the kids were very
excited and appreciative of all the effort that the SAREX Work Group, their
school and their teachers put forth to make the contact possible.  A group
"Thank You" from the children echoed over the teleconference after contact
with astronaut Thomas was lost.

The contact was made using the Houston Telebridge station (W5RRR) with
Matt Bordelon, KC5BTL, at the controls.

About 150 people attended the SAREX contact including about 75 students.
When the contact was over, one of the students commented, "This was really
cool...a once in a lifetime experience". 

The following day, a second SAREX school also completed a successful
interview with astronaut Andy Thomas, KD5CHF.  The Prairie Hills Elementary
School in Colorado Springs, Colorado completed a successful direct contact
with Andy on Tuesday 24-Feb-98.

After hearing that the second school group contact was successful, Frank
Bauer, KA3HDO, AMSAT's Vice President for Manned Space Programs said, "It
gives me great pleasure to know that the school group logjam is finally
starting to clear.  It was exciting to hear the student's reactions to the
contacts and rewarding to know that we have provided an experience to the
communities of Shell Beach and to Prairie Hills that they will never

Rob Roller, N7LV, submitted the following comments following the Praire
Hills Elementary SAREX school group contact with Andy Thomas on Mir:

"What a thrill!  About 300-400 kids in the gym, all three networks with a
video crew there, 10 excited kids waiting to ask their questions, and a
great crew of radio operators and video camera operators.  All of this
came together at slightly after 9:07 this morning when we finally made
the contact with Andy Thomas on Mir.

All the people in the gym watched closely as the overhead display showed Mir
on its track to Colorado Springs while they listened to the static over the
gym's PA speakers.  When Andy Thomas' voice broke through, I'm sure I could
hear plenty of suppressed "Yea!" expressions.  Andy talked for several
seconds, describing what he's doing on the Mir.  Then the kids asked their
questions and Andy answered all that he could hear.  By the seventh question,
Mir was dropping rapidly toward the horizon and we were losing the signal
quickly.  Unfortunately only six questions were answered by Andy, but the
rest were answered by our two speakers. 

Following the contact, two speakers answered yet more questions for about
another half an hour from excited kids.  Major Mike Caylor from the USAFA
and Eric Joern, with about 10 years experience training the astronauts,
answered many more questions for the next 30 or 40 minutes."

Rob extends his sincere thanks to all who helped make this contact a reality.

SAREX currently has a backlog of 60 to 80 schools that have been waiting
patiently for a schedule to speak to an astronaut in space for the past
several years.  SAREX is not currently accepting any new applications for
contacts.  Further information on SAREX/MAREX school schedules can be found
on the American Radio Relay League's Web Page at: http://www.arrl.org.

[Info via Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, and Miles Mann, WF1F]

Ron Broadbent, G3AAJ, was honored by the Radio Society of Great Britain
(RSGB) last Sunday, 22 February, when he was presented with their Louis 
Varney Cup; Louis' callsign, G5RV, may be familiar to some.

The cup is in the gift of the RSGB's VHF Committee; it is presented 
annually for "advances in space communication".

Ron's 20 years of service as Secretary of AMSAT-UK, before his retirement
last December, make him well fitted for this honor.  Many advances could 
not have happened without his tireless work for the good of amateur 
satellites and the amateur radio fraternity worldwide.

[Info via Richard W. L. Limebear, G3RWL, Communications Officer, AMSAT-UK]

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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