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Mir, Earth-Mir-Earth

Mir Amateur Radio Status: Aug 4, 1999

By Miles Mann WF1F,
MAREX-NA (Manned Amateur Radio Experiment, North American Division)

What do we do, while Mir is temporarily off the air?

We'll, have you tried Earth-Mir-Earth?

Many of you may have heard of Moon bounce, also called Earth-Moon-Earth.
Did you know you could do the same thing with the Russian Space Station Mir.
In the 1960's NASA launched a satellite project Echo.
 Is was just a big inflatable balloon 100 feet in diamiter
floating  in  a  low  orbit, Mir is bigger.  Echo was the first American passive
satellite ever launched and it
was  successful.   The  word Passive means, it had no electronics to relay radio
The  radio  signals just bounced off the reflective material.  Terrestrial radio
stations would aim
their  antennas at the Satellite Echo and literally bound their signals off Echo
to communication.

The same theory can be used with the Russians space Station Mir.

In 1994 I actually heard some echoes of a distant amateur radio station actually
bouncing off
the  Space  Station  Mir.   It happened during a pre-arranged Mir radio schedule
with Cosmonaut
Aleksander  Serebrov.   I  would  routinely have a schedule with the Mir crew to
make  arrangements  for  school  schedules.   A  fellow  ham  Joe  W2KQ was also
assisting  with  making the school arrangements.  I live in the Boston Mass, Joe
lives  in  New Jersey, under normal conditions I can not hear Joe on the 2-meter
band.    The only time we can hear each other is during a band opening and if we
have  our  antennas  pointed  at each other.  At the time of the contact we were
both  running similar stations, each equipped with a 12dBd gain antennas and 150
watts  of  raw  power  (total  ERP  2400  watts).   After  I was done talking to
Cosmonaut Aleksander, I signed clear
knowing  that Joe would pick up the conversation.  Aleksander then began talking
to Joe W2KQ in New Jersey. After listening to Mir for a few more seconds I began
to  hear Joe's unmistakable voice echoing off the Russian Space Station Mir.  At
first  I assume we had a band opening on 2-meters.  Then I looked at my computer
to  see  where  my  antenna  was pointing.  The computer controlled antennas was
aiming  South  East,  out to sea at the Mir Space Station.  New Jersey was on my
side of my beam, not off the front or back of the beam.  Then I looked closer at
the  computer  to  see where Joe was pointing his beam.  Sure enough, Joe's beam
would be pointing North East out to sea, also towards the Mir Space Station.
There are a few possible other explanations, but since both of our antennas were
pointing  out  to  sea and elevated up towards the Space Station Mir, it seems a
pretty good theory we were bouncing off Mir.

What do you need to Mir Bounce.
A big station.
Antenna   12 dBd or more
Power Raw 150 +
Antenna preamp
Mode CW or SSB
So if you have a Big gun, give Earth Mir Earth a try.

Copyright  1999  Miles  Mann,  All Rights Reserved.  This document may be freely
distributed via the following means - Email (including listservers), Usenet, and
World-Wide-Web.   It may not be reproduced for profit including, but not limited
to,  CD  ROMs,  books,  and/or  other  commercial  outlets without prior written
consent from the author.
Images  received  from the MAREX-NA SSTV system on the Russian Space Station Mir
are  considered  public  domain  and  may  be  freely distributed, without prior


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