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Nick Lance, KC5KBO, SK — Prepared Astronauts to Become Radio Amateurs


Nick Lance Jr, KC5KBO, of Houston, Texas, died May 24. He was 65. A retired NASA engineer and an ARRL member, Lance was a veteran member of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) team, and one of his roles was to prepare the astronauts to pass their Amateur Radio license exams. Lance was named ARRL Professional Educator of the Year in 2003. ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, called Lance “a smart, caring, considerate, and helpful person” who loved Amateur Radio. Bauer said he would miss Lance’s quick wit and sense of humor. 

“As the primary amateur radio license trainer for the ISS astronauts, Nick played an integral role in encouraging and training countless astronauts — US, Canada, Japan and Europe — to pursue their Amateur Radio licenses and become active on ARISS,” said Bauer. “He inspired and trained dozens of NASA aerospace education specialists — who talk to schoolteachers nationwide — to get their ham tickets. He also taught a ‘Hamster’ course to middle schoolers, inspiring them to pursue careers in technology through Amateur Radio and ARISS activities.”

Lance grew up in New Jersey and held mechanical engineering degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Houston. He began his career as a co-op student at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in 1968. He went on to become part of the Apollo Program, which landed the first humans on the moon, and was involved in all of the manned spaceflight programs since Apollo. He retired in August 2009.

Although he became interested in Amateur Radio as a youngster, it wasn’t until his 8-year-old daughter Erica said she’d like to study for a ham radio license that he got his ticket. Father and daughter passed their license exams together in 1994, becoming KC5KBO and KC5KBP, respectively. A couple of years later, his son Nick, now KC5SWM, earned his license at age 7; his wife Renee, now KC5VMA, followed that same year.

Lance was a member of the JSC Amateur Radio Club and past president of the Clear Lake Amateur Radio Club (CLARC). He also taught licensing classes to the public and to intermediate school students, licensing about 30 or 40 students per year. The Westbrook Intermediate School Club and the League City Intermediate School Club competed in the ARRL School Club Roundup using Lance’s call sign.

Lance also competed on the tournament horseshoe circuit as a member of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, winning back-to-back gold medals in the 2009, 2011, and 2013 National Senior Olympic Games. In 2013 he also won the Texas State Horseshoe Championship.





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