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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS007 (1998)

ARLS007 Mir-school QSOs

Space Bulletin 007  ARLS007
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT  April 9, 1998
To all radio amateurs

ARLS007 Mir-school QSOs

US astronaut Andy Thomas, KD5CHF/VK5MIR, thinks we may not be alone.
Speaking via Amateur Radio April 8 with high school students in
Roswell, New Mexico--the self-proclaimed UFO capital of the
world--Thomas said in response to a student's question that he
believes there is extraterrestrial intelligent life. ''Yes, I think
there probably is, when you consider the scale of the universe,'' he
said during a scheduled Mir-school contact with students at Goddard
High School and Roswell High School.

Thomas described life is ''a very tenacious thing,'' that could
exist beyond the bounds of Earth. But he said he very much doubts
that space beings ever visited Roswell, as some assert happened in
the late 1940s. Tourist attractions in Roswell have since
capitalized on the UFO talk.

The New Mexico high schoolers asked 11 questions during the
approximately 10-minute chat with Thomas, which took place via a
telebridge with VK5AGR in Thomas' native Australia. Some 120 people,
including fellow students, parents, teachers and the news media,
were on hand for the occasion.

On April 9, Thomas told students at Land of Pines School in Howell,
New Jersey, that the money spent on space research represents a
long-term investment and ''one that we have to continue to make.''
Thomas said he trained for a year for his Mir mission. Students got
to answer ten questions during a contact that was interrupted
halfway through by communication troubles. During the contact,
student teams tracked the space station as it passed overhead and
announced its position relative to Earth.

Mir-school contacts resumed earlier this year after a one-year
hiatus. They are being arranged through the SAREX program, a joint
effort of NASA, the ARRL, and AMSAT, in cooperation with the Russian
space program. Other contacts are set for this month with schools in
New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.


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