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History of MIR


Way back when, around March of 1990, my friend, Jerry, WB6YGU, and I were
listening on HF 145.550, for the Space Shuttle, hoping to copy it. All of a
sudden we heard, "CQ...CQ...U2MIR", from Mir. At that time I had no idea
what that was and asked Jerry to look it up in his Amsat book. It was then
we learned we were hearing a Russian satelite, as again we heard, "CQ from
Mir", but this time the voice said, "this is Musa". 

I called back, using my lousy Russian, with 15 watts on my Icon 245 and
Ringo Ranger, and was rewarded by his return in broken English. Musa asked
where I was, I told him by San Fransisco, he then asked me whatthe signal
was like, and I replied, "It was good".

But let me digress a bit here, a 'team' called SAFEX had made a contract
with Serge (RV3DR), to fly an HT; Icom 228, a PacComm TNC (15K), and a PC
Laptop. The Icom was the radio Musa was using the first time I had heard
him. Also, on board Mir back then was a Yaesu FT-290r, (2.5 watts).

Musa asked me if I could please be there for another voice contact on the
next orbit, so I said "sure". There was some doubt in mine and Jerry's mind
whether this was truly Musa on Mir....... 

And at this time I had NO idea what Doppler or a 'tracking program'

So, Jerry and I stayed on 145.550 for what seemed a LONG time, (not having
a tracking program or a clue), when we finally heard a faint voice calling,
"N6JLH". I called back, but was not heard, after about 2 minutes we both
heard again, "N6JLH, you hear me"? After responding, we chatted for a few
minutes, then Musa asked if he could try something; he called again, his
voice very weak. He was calling on the FT-290r, his signal S-1. Then Musa
came back on the Icom, loud and clear, with a signal of S9+. Right
afterwards I lost him.

Two weeks passed when one late night I heard the packet signal. So I set my
TNC to see what was coming across the frequency. The call was U2MIR ! I
tried to connect, but kept getting, "BUSY....BUSY....(DM)..... I had NO
idea what this meant, so set out to learn. I got in touch with a ham that I
knew that had a tracking program and gave me some times. The next night I
actually got logged in and sent my first message:

SUBJ: Hello
MESSAGE:  How does space look?

Then Mir was off for another 3 weeks. I took this time to get an Amsat
Satelite Hand book and do some reading. Learned ALOT form this book and it
also helped me get to sleep faster a few nights!  (-:

I then ordered InstantTrack, (which by the way, I still run to this day),
and went hunting for 'Keps'.  Now, keep in mind, E-mail and the 'Web' were
not widely known or used as yet. I loaded in MIR Keps, and started to
upload these Keps everyday to everyone. The Mir crew kept 'killing' my Keps
and I kept on loading them back onto the PMS. Finally one day I got a
message from the crew asking me why I keep putting the Keps on their 'PMS',
I replied back my reason. They were amazed, "You mean hams can 'see' MIR
and know when it is over their heads"?  Again, you have to remember the

Each crew that went up on MIR had its own call sign. Here is a message from
U8MIR, Alex:

Posted: 07/20/92
To       : N6JLH
>From   : U8MIR
Subject: Dave!

   Hello Dave!
   All is OK onboard MIR.
Today we bagain some medical
and biological trainings for
the future returning on the
Earth. Our health isgood
and medicians are satisfied.
   Unfortunately I can't
operate with you BBS because
of observing of two hurricanes
near California. Photo, video,
polarisation etc.
   We haven't any great works
now but the time is going ver
   I don't know the calls of the
new crew except of Michael Tognini.
And I'm dissatisfied.
   Now is the time to look the
hurricane. Good bye.
   73 Alex U8MIR.

Sometime after this the call sign went to R0MIR and stayed as we know it

One time Alex had said that everytime power ws taken off the PacComm, it
would lose the prams and that he was tired of putting them back in. It was
around that time that I placed a call to Mr. Ready at PacComm, inquiring
about the 'HandiPacket', explaining what I wanted it for and why. He said
he would ship one to me.  That PacComm became part of history, as it was
delivered to MIR and stayed on line until sometime in 1998. It was replaced
by a Kam, donated to Mirex.  

In 1996 - 97, a Kenwood TM-733 was donated and flown on MIR.

About this time, SAFEX sent up what is know as the "SAFEX Repeter
Experiment", and is still working to this day, GREAT. (When it's on).

The SAFEX team also sent up a DVM, (Digital Voice Mike), worked well while
it lasted. I have several WAV files from when Sannon Lucid was on Mir, and
used to update what was going on up on Mir.

Mir's frequency had changed several times in its long history, 
  145.800 - 600

While Mike Foale was on Mir, a fire errupted, and he NEEDED a frequency
that would not interfere with the crew's VH1 (143.625). At this time I
called the Amsat Frequency Coordinator, USA, asked him if he had a wish
list, where would be a good place for Mir to go? 145.985 was given as Mir's
tempory frequency. During this time, Miles and myself were also down
loading messages from Mir on 70 centimeters. Mike also used SAFEX to make
70 cms contacts with a lot of hams, while packet, too, was running on

At about this time, CDI donated an in-line 'filter' to Mir, that REALLY
helped when the crew were talking on VH1. 

In November of 1995, I was hearing a lot of hams saying it was VERY hard to
get a QSL Card from Russia, so I contacted Serge and Alex Kaleri (Deputy
Chief of Energia Cosmonaut Team), ans asked if I could be a QSL manager for
all the world, except, of courtse, Russia. I recieved a real nice fax
letter from both, saying that yes, this was OK.  Later in 1998 I suggested
that only the USA Mir manager be the Sysop of Mir. This they also agreed

The equipment of Mir cannot be brought over to the ISS, due to several
reasons, the main one being that Mir has had several coolant leaks. The ham
equipment had been exposed to these leaks as well as to fires. The coolant
will eat away at the equipment, and we all know what smoke will do.

IT'S BEEN A LOT OF FUN 'WORKING' MIR, over the last 9 years.

A special Thanks to ALL the vendors who donated equipment to Mirex for Mir
Thanks goes to Miles when he was a part of "TEAM MIREX" for procuring the Kam and DCI

 A BIG thanks goes to the MIREX team 

 Fran [KE6IXD]
 Scott [WA6LIE]
 Jerry [WB6YGU]
We look forward to ISS and our project.

 A Special Thanks to ALL the Venders who donated to MIREX.

And to SAFEX for allowing Mirex to use their equipment

If anyone would like some of the "Old" files or "WAV" files, please let me
know. They are too big to send through the SAREX List Server. 

Dr. Dave Larsen
  ex N6JLH

Sub Note:  A new DVM will also be going to ISS in the future.

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