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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS005 (1998)

ARLS005 Thomas completes third Mir-school QSO, others scheduled

Space Bulletin 005  ARLS005
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT  February 27, 1998
To all radio amateurs

ARLS005 Thomas completes third Mir-school QSO, others scheduled

It's been a long, dry spell for schools that have been waiting for a
chance to have their students talk to Mir.  But the drought has
ended.  Amateur Radio contacts between the Russian Mir space station
and schools--on hold since a series of problems plagued Mir last
year--resumed this week.  Aboard Mir, US astronaut Andy Thomas,
KD5CHF, spoke with youngsters at schools in California, Colorado,
and South Carolina.  Another Mir contact with a school in Wyoming is
set for March 3, and additional Mir-school contacts are in the
works, possibly for later in March.

On February 23, Thomas spoke with youngsters at Shell Beach
Elementary School in Pismo Beach, California.  The pupils got to ask
Thomas 10 questions during the 10-minute contact--made possible
through a telebridge connection via W5RRR at Johnson Space Center in

The following day, February 24, ten youngsters at Prairie Hills
Elementary School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, got their chance to
speak with Thomas via WA0VTU, the club station of the Pikes Peak
Radio Amateur Association.  As an audience of around 350--including
TV and newspaper reporters--looked on and listened in, Thomas
described his activities on Mir and answered six questions.

On February 26, pupils at Buist Academy in Charleston, South
Carolina, fired off a dozen questions.  Thomas--using his
Australian-issued VK5MIR call sign for the telebridge contact via
VK5AGR--managed to answer 11 of them during the 10-minute contact.
In one answer, Thomas spoke of the importance for those in space to
have radio contact with Earth to keep in touch with friends and
family (he expressed similar sentiments during a NASA press
conference where he extolled ham radio as immensely helpful in
combating the loneliness of space flight).  In answering another
question about the value of international cooperation in space
exploration, Thomas declared, ''Space doesn't belong to any one
country.  We have to share it.'' An audience of approximately 50
people, including news media, was on hand for the contact.

Some of the schools on the latest schedule originally were scheduled
to talk with US astronaut Jerry Linenger, KC5HBR, who was aboard Mir
for the last school-Mir contacts a year ago.

AMSAT Vice President for Manned Space Programs Frank Bauer, KA3HDO,
said this week he's pleased that the school contacts logjam was
finally starting to clear.  ''It was exciting to hear the students'
reactions to the contacts and rewarding to know that we have
provided an experience to these communities they will never forget,''
he said.

The school contacts were carried out on 70 cm.  Thomas, a
46-year-old native of Australia, will work aboard Mir until June.


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