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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS004 (1998)

ARLS004 Mir-School QSOs Resume!

Space Bulletin 004  ARLS004
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT  February 24, 1998
To all radio amateurs

ARLS004 Mir-School QSOs Resume.

Amateur Radio contacts between the crew aboard the Russian Mir space
station and schools--on hold since a series of problems plagued Mir
last year--resumed in February.  As this report went to press, one
school contact had been successfully completed and three others were
on the schedule.

On February 23, US Astronaut Andy Thomas, KD5CHF, spoke with six
youngsters at Shell Beach elementary School in Pismo Beach,
California.  The pupils--in grades 1 through 6--got to ask Thomas 10
questions during the 10-minute contact, which was made possible
through a telebridge connection via W5RRR at Johnson Space Center in

AMSAT Technical Mentor Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, from the Santa Rosa
Junior College SAREX Telebridge Station W6SRJ said the children
practiced their on-the-air performance several times during the
previous week until they had it just right.  ''After the session with
Andy, the kids were very excited and appreciative of all the effort
that the SAREX Working Group, their school and their teachers put
forth to make the contact possible,'' he said.  ''A group 'thank you'
from the children echoed over the teleconference after contact.''

More than 125 other pupils and adults were on hand at the school
during the contact, which was covered by two local TV stations and
reporters from two newspapers.  The school contact was coordinated
by Irene and Frank Wetzel, W6ELK, at the school.

The SAREX Working Group has tentatively scheduled three other
schools for school-to-Mir contacts.  The other schools on the
schedule are in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Carolina.  Arranging
the contact schedule took several months and had been complicated by
the continuing equipment problems aboard Mir and--more recently--the
change in crews.  The last school-Mir contacts took place a year ago
during the Mir tour of US astronaut Jerry Linenger, KC5HBR.

The Shell Beach school contact was a new experience for the pupils
on Earth and for Thomas.  In the first few weeks of his stay, Thomas
logged very little time on the spacecraft's Amateur Radio equipment
because of the crew's busy schedule.  But he did make some contacts
earlier this month on 440 MHz, using the R0MIR call sign.  Thomas,
who is 46, will work aboard Mir until June.


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