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Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, Gets Busy from Space

10/16/2008

Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, took off for the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, October 12, becoming the sixth private citizen to fly with the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA) for a short-term mission on the ISS. Not two hours after he arrived on the ISS on October 14, Garriott was making ham radio contacts, just as his father, Owen Garriott, W5LFL --the first ham to make QSOs from space -- did in 1983. Richard is scheduled to return to Earth on Thursday, October 23.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said that not only did Richard start making QSOs almost immediately after docking to the ISS, he also started SSTV operations. "We have had a number of image uploads on the [ARISS Web] site by hams from all around the world. A volunteer ARISS team is working 24/7 during Richard's flight to review these images, to understand how the SSTV operations are progressing and to include some of these images on the Gallery pages [on the ARISS Web site]. All uploaded images have been archived and are being reviewed." Bauer asked hams to continue to upload these images, as they help the ARISS team analyze and redirect the SSTV operations. He also said that a blog providing the latest ARISS information for Richard's expedition is available.

"Richard is really not supporting SSTV uplinks during his short duration mission," Bauer said. "The downlink is on the normal ARISS VHF downlink, 145.80 kHz." For general voice contacts, Bauer recommends the regular general voice frequencies: 145.80 for the downlink and 144.49 in Region 2 (Americas) and 145.20 for Region 1 (Europe, Africa, Middle East) and Region 3 (Australia, Asia) for the uplink. "Richard and Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, have been on the air on voice since shortly after docking [on Tuesday]," Bauer said.

"Richard is great!" said ARRL ARISS Program Manager Rosalie White, K1STO. "First he wanted to do a QSO with the mayor of his hometown -- Austin, Texas -- then he asked us to sponsor an Austin school QSO. He got the mayor to bring kids into the mayor's office for the QSO! Last I heard, several busloads of kids were being brought to the mayor's digs. And right after that QSO, he thrills hams with more QSOs. We've gotten several notes from hams who talked to Richard saying they had talked to his dad years ago, too. Pretty cool!"

Richard also chose the Budbrooke Primary School in Warwick is England to make QSOs with. "The QSO will enhance their technology and ham radio studies. ARISS Vice Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, in Belgium is mentoring this school," White said.

Richard has also scheduled a QSO with two groups who are in the ARISS queue: Pinehurst Elementary School in Ashland, Oregon, and the National Planetarium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The teacher at the Oregon school is leading the ham radio presentations and space-related lessons; John Spasojevich, AG9D, of Indiana is mentoring this school. The planetarium QSO will be coordinated by ARISS volunteer Sangat Singh, 9M2SS, using the planetarium's club call sign 9M2SS. Part of the planetarium's Space Challenge educational activities, the QSO is scheduled on the day Richard is required to pack his belongings for his return to Earth. If he becomes too occupied with packing and other required duties, Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, the commander of Expedition 18, could assist with the QSO.

Because Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) takes place on while Richard is on the ISS, he hopes to hook up on the air with Scouts. "Past experience shows that scouts love talking to hams in space," White said. "The ARISS Team feels the most important aspect of Richard's mission is to pique students' interest in science and technology through the ARISS QSOs."

Bauer explained that Richard Garriott's flight on the ISS is "a part of history. Some of you have asked why Richard is using his call sign for some QSOs and SSTV contacts, instead of the ISS station call signs. There is a long and proud history that is attached to the Garriotts. This includes ham radio in space and their personal call signs. Twenty-five years ago, Richard's father, Owen Garriott, W5LFL, initiated the first ham radio contacts from space on the STS-9 SAREX mission. Richard, W5KWQ, is following in his father's footsteps, using the ARISS ham radio system extensively on his first flight. Richard's call sign is actually his grandfather's original call sign. So you can see that this mission touches three generations of ham radio and two generations of ham radio in space!"



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