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AMSAT, ARISS Veteran Keith D. Pugh, W5IU, SK


An AMSAT and ARISS engineering veteran, Keith Pugh, W5IU, of Fort Worth, Texas, died on May 24. An ARRL Life Member, he was 80.

Born and raised in Dodge City, Kansas, Pugh was licensed in 1953. Amateur Radio strongly influenced his decision to pursue a career in electrical engineering, and he earned a Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering degree at Kansas State University in 1961. He moved to Texas to work for Convair (later General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin), and, after upgrading to an Amateur Extra-class license, he became W5IU. Pugh retired from Lockheed Martin in 2004 after a career in RADAR and Navigation Systems Engineering.

In the early 1980s, he became interested in ham radio satellites, making contacts on AO-08 and AO-10. He went on to become an AMSAT Area Coordinator and, later served as AMSAT Vice President for Operations.

Pugh jump-started his passion for Amateur Radio on human spaceflight missions in 1991, when the Soviet space station Mir was in orbit. Pugh joined the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) team in 2004, where he has provided support as an operations leader, mentoring numerous schools and ARISS contact organizations and attending ARISS International meetings.

At Dayton Hamvention®, he volunteered in the AMSAT Booth for many years and frequently headed up the Dayton Hamvention Satellite Demonstration Station.



“Many of us were aware of Keith's cancer,” said ARISS International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO. “But, Keith being Keith, he kept most of his pain and suffering to himself. He remained joyful and humble until his death. In fact, just a few days before his death, Keith signed into the ARISS International teleconference, apologizing that he came in late. None of us knew this would be our last dialog with such a close friend and outstanding member of our team.” 

ARISS ARRL Representative Rosalie White, K1STO, said Pugh made a difference in his role as an ARISS Technical Mentor for many schools. “ARISS contacts are always exciting and sometimes produce tense moments,” White said. “The educators liked Keith's calm manner and he often received special souvenirs. For the ARISS contact on April 15 at Huntington (TX) High School, the group framed one of the school's ARISS shirts, which students had autographed — some with the call signs they had earned. They customized it even further with Keith's call sign. He touched hundreds of thousands of youth along with all ages of people who had curiosity about ham radio, space, and satellites.”