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The United States began its last flight to the Russian Mir Space Station on Tuesday, June 2, 1998, with a flawless, on-time liftoff of the Space Shuttle Discovery and a six-member crew. Astronauts aboard Discovery on lift-off included Commander Charlie Precourt, Pilot Dominic Gorie and Mission Specialists Frankliin Chiang-Diaz, Wendy Lawrence, Janet Kavandi and Valery Ryumin, a veteran Russian Space Agency cosmonaut.
The main mission objective is a ride home from Mir for astronaut Andy Thomas, who has been aloft since January 22nd. Thomas is the last of seven astronauts who have stayed aboard Mir during the past three and a half years, completing a combined total of almost 1,000 days on the Russian station.
Discovery's crew began its first full day in orbit on June 3rd with some minor problems. Flight controllers noted a problem with transmissions from Discovery's Ku-band communications system, including television, to the ground. Controllers also monitored a water leak in a check valve associated with one of Discovery's three fuel cells.
On Thursday, June 4th, for the ninth and final time, an American space shuttle successfully docked to the Russian Space Station Mir. Commander Charlie Precourt guided Discovery to a textbook docking with Mir, as the two spacecraft sailed over the Russian-Kazak border northwest of the Caspian Sea. A little more than an hour and a half after docking, the hatches between Discovery and Mir swung open and Precourt exchanged handshakes and embraces with Mir 25 Commander Talgat Musabayev. Waiting nearby was U.S. Astronaut Andy Thomas, who officially became a member of Discovery's crew at the moment of hatch opening.
The nine astronauts and cosmonauts aboard Discovery-Mir are hard at work during this time of joint operations, continuing the transfer of about four tons of logistical supplies and equipment. Much of the docked time will be spent transferring water, scientific gear and other hardware between the two spacecraft. Crewmembers have so far transferred five bags of water to Mir, with an additional seven or eight bags expected to be transferred by the time Discovery undocks on Monday. Also, an in-flight maintenance procedure was performed to try and resolve the problem being experienced with Discovery's Ku-band communication system.
A significant milestone was achieved when cosmonaut Valery Ryumin marked 365 days of space flight time on Friday and at the same time Mission Specialist Andy Thomas was less than a week away from ending his four-month trip into space.
The Discovery-Mir complex is currently orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 207 nautical miles, circling the Earth once every 92 minutes.
[ANS thanks NASA for this information]
A special arrangement linking several schools and individuals via telephone and amateur radio with US astronaut Andy Thomas, KD5CHF, capped a series of highly successful Mir-school contacts. The historic, early-morning QSO on May 29th very likely marked the last ham radio contact between earthbound students and a US astronaut aboard Mir. The Space Amateur Radio EXperiment, or SAREX coordinated the contact.
A school that had been scheduled for the time slot at the last minute wasn't able to get details coordinated in time. So SAREX representative (AMSAT's own) Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, took things in hand. He contacted the Burbank School in the Chicago area and Santa Rosa Junior College in California. The schools were able to quickly round up students, teachers, and mentors who were more than happy to get up before dawn to speak with Thomas.
T.J. Bailey, KF6IAO, of Geyserville, California, High School had the honor of calling Thomas on the radio and hearing Thomas' Australian-accented reply. Outstanding conditions allowed Bauer to begin by thanking Thomas on behalf of the SAREX Working Group for touching the lives of thousands of students, teachers and parents all over the US in the past 14 weeks.
"It was my pleasure!" Thomas replied. "The students and you all are the ones who got up early. You're the ones who should be thanked."
Students and teachers at the various locations then asked questions about the crew's sleep schedule, the greatest thing learned during any of the Mir missions, how he felt physically, and Mir's safety. Thomas reported that Mir is very stable now, and that the hardware is "robust."
Thomas also recently issued a "thank you" message of his own to hams around the world that sent messages via the Mir packet system. "I hope it is understood that the volume of traffic has made individual responses impossible, but we really enjoy your mail," he said in a packet broadcast from R0MIR.
Earlier this month, students at schools in Texas, Tennessee, and Australia also were successful in speaking with Thomas during SAREX arranged contacts. Thomas chatted with students at two schools in his native Australia. Bauer reports students at the Schools of the Air -- located in several remote areas -- were bridged together with VK5AGR using a teleconferencing facility for that contact. "When asked what he misses most, he said he would love to have a hot shower," Bauer said. He also said he was looking forward to being part of the construction of the International Space Station. Bauer said students at Australia's Gormandale and District School stumped Thomas with the question, "How does a yo-yo work in space."
Thomas is due to return to Earth June 12 aboard the shuttle Discovery.
[ANS thanks SAREX, the ARRL, Rosalie White, WA1STO, and Dave Larsen, N6CO for this information]
AMSAT-NA corporate secretary Martha Saragovitz tells ANS it's time to submit nominations for the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors. AMSAT member societies or five individual members may make nominations of fellow members to serve a two-year term on the board.
Three seats on the seven-member board must be filled this year.
Board members whose terms are due to end include Keith Baker, KB1SF, Tom Clark, W3IWI and Andy MacAllister, W5ACM.
Persons who accept nomination must understand that meeting attendance is mandatory. There are generally two meetings per year.
Nominations should be marked 'Board of Directors Nomination' and sent to:
AMSAT 850 Sligo Ave #600 Silver Spring, MD 20910
Nominations must arrive by June 15, 1998. An election will follow.
[ANS thanks Martha Saragovitz for this information]
The ARRL has asked the FCC to immediately dismiss efforts by the Land Mobile Communications Council to gain primary access to 420 to 430 MHz and 440 to 450 MHz as well as other UHF allocations. The LMCC recently petitioned the FCC to reallocate the two 70cm segments from the federal government to the Private Mobile Radio Service. Amateur radio enjoys the use of 420 to 450 MHz on a secondary basis. In comments filed on RM-9267, the League said the LMCC proposed the switch "without establishing technical compatibility between PMRS operation and incumbent radio services in any of the bands sought."
The League backed up its arguments by citing documents from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which manages federal spectrum. "NTIA has made it quite clear that there is no possibility of additional sharing of the 420-450 MHz band, and the unique relationship between Federal radiolocation uses and the Amateur Service cannot be duplicated by PMRS users," the ARRL said.
A copy of the League's comments is available at the following URL:
The Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) -- an LMCC member -- has come down on the side of Amateur Radio to oppose reallocating 420 to 430 and 440 to 450 MHz from the federal government to the Private Mobile Radio Service (PMRS). APCO said it otherwise supports the rest of the LMCC petition, which sought additional spectrum elsewhere.
In comments filed with the FCC June 1, APCO cited "a long history of cooperation between public safety agencies and the amateur radio community, especially in coordinating disaster relief and other emergency efforts." APCO said ham radio "often provides the most effective and reliable on-scene and wide-area communications" after an emergency or disaster. Adding users to the spectrum would make it less useful for Amateur Radio, APCO said.
Meanwhile, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) also respectfully submitted comments opposing the petition filed by the LMCC. In the official response to RM-9267, AMSAT-NA President Bill Tynan, W3XO, first established AMSAT's background as a not-for-profit corporation established in 1969, noting that together with over thirty affiliated organizations throughout the world, AMSAT has constructed, launched and operated over two dozen satellites in the amateur-satellite service, of which many are presently in operation.
Tynan also discussed the Phase 3D project, noting one of the principal frequency bands that Phase 3D will employ is the 435 - 438 MHz segment of the 70cm band. In addition, another important project, which is destined to make heavy use of 435 - 438 MHz, is amateur radio involvement on the International Space Station (ISS). The AMSAT-NA response explains how amateur radio has been accepted as an official payload for ISS, and AMSAT, along with amateur groups from a number of countries, is currently actively pursuing designs for equipment to go aboard the Station.
In addition to the FCC filing, a copy of the AMSAT text was also forwarded to AMSAT-International with a brief introductory statement as to what the initial issues are, and why AMSAT-NA has filed these comments with the FCC.
The complete AMSAT-NA response, citing over 18 examples of current and future plans for the 70cm amateur frequencies can be found at the following URL:
[ANS thanks the ARRL and the AMSAT Board of Directors for this information]
The 50 MHz and Up Group of Northern California, Inc. and the Western States Weak Signal Society will be holding the annual WSWSS VHF+ Conference on October 3rd, 1998 at the Sunnyvale Hilton in Sunnyvale, California.
The conference will have two presentation paths, one for general interest and one for technical specialties. Papers or presentations are being accepted at this time. Topics should be of general VHF+ interest or detailed technical content.
Those parties interested in participation should submit a paragraph outlining content to:
862 Somerset Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
You may also e-mail your paragraph to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full papers must be submitted by July 20, 1998 for inclusion in the proceedings.
More information is available at the WSWSS '98 web site at the following URL:
[ANS thanks the WSWSS and Jim Moss for this information]
ANS satellite news in brief this week includes the following:
Mir . RS-12 . RS-15 . RS-16 . AO-10 . AO-27 . FO-20 . FO-29 . KO-23 . KO-25 . UO-11 . AO-16 . DO-17 . WO-18 . LO-19 . UO-22 . IO-26
All operations on R0MIR-1 are normal. The PBBS is running a Kantronics KPC-9612+ V.8.1 TNC. The commands a similar to most PBBS and BBS systems.
All operations on R0MIR-1 are currently normal, however stations should expect periods of non-operation of the amateur radio equipment during the current STS-91/Mir flight.
[ANS thanks Scott Avery, WA6LIE, and the MIREX team for Mir status information]
Uplink 145.910 to 145.950 MHz CW/SSB
Downlink 29.410 to 29.450 MHz CW/SSB
Operational, mode KA.
The warbling signals appear to be caused only on 2 meter uplink signals, and is thought to be caused by a commercial transponder operating on the spacecraft. The 21 MHz uplink and beacon do not appear to be affected. Kevin, AC5DK, reports he has been on RS-12 for three years and enjoys RS-12 operation with 47 states confirmed and almost 100 different grid squares. The East Coast US activity on RS-12 has been very light for the past several months according to N3DV.
[ANS thanks AC5DK and N3DV for their reports]
Uplink 145.858 to 145.898 MHz CW/SSB
Downlink 29.354 to 29.394 MHz CW/SSB
Pat, G3IOR, and Dave, G4CUO, report RS-15 has apparently lost its TLM beacon. However, the transponder remains on and working. Bob, W7LRD also noted the silent RS-15 beacon, but also reports the transponder seems to be working ok. CW still appears to be the most successful mode on RS-15.
[ANS thanks G3IOR, G4CUO, W2RS and W7LRD for their RS-15 reports]
The 435 MHz beacon (only) is operational. Recent attempts to command the Mode A transponder on have been unsuccessful.
Uplink = 145.915 - 145.948 MHz
Downlink = 29.415 - 29.448 MHz
Beacons = 29.408 , 29.451 MHz
Pwr 29 MHz Down = 1.2 W / 4 W
Beacon 1 = 435.504 MHz
Beacon 2 = 435.548 MHz
Pwr 435 MHz Beacons = 1.6 W
Uplink 435.030 to 435.180 MHz CW/LSB
Downlink 145.975 to 145.825 MHz CW/USB
Stacey Mills, W4SM, reports AO-10 downlink signals have improved considerably in the last two weeks. QSO's are now taking place again and the solar illumination should continue to improve. W4SM reports no problem hearing his own downlink at 30,000 km distance. This bodes well for this year's field day activities on AO-10 as "the satellite will also be orbitally well positioned for field day use this year."
The low point of this illumination cycle appears to have been around late March, although the beacon could still be barely heard with deep QSB at that time. W4SM has revised the questimated ALON/ALAT to approximately 100/25 based on these observations.
W4SM has more information about the satellite on his AO-10 web page, using the following URL:
[ANS thanks Stacey Mills, W4SM for his AO-10 status information and web site]
Uplink 145.850 MHz FM
Downlink: 436.792 MHz FM
AO-27 TEPR States are currently:
4 = 36 = 18 Minutes
5 = 72 = 36 Minutes
This means AO-27's transmitter turns on 18 minutes after entering the Sun and stays on for 18 minutes. AO-27's transmitter is turned off at all other times during the orbit. N4USI reminds stations that this happens on every orbit, approximately 14.2 times a day. The current TEPR settings will cause the satellite to be on during the daytime at northern latitudes.
[ANS thanks Michael Wyrick, N4USI, AO-27 Control-op for this update]
Uplink 145.900 to 146.000 MHz CW/LSB
Downlink 435.800 to 435.900 MHz CW/USB
Operational. FO-20 in mode JA continuously.
[ANS thanks Kazu Sakamoto, JJ1WTK for his FO-20 status reports]
Kazu, JJ1WTK, tells ANS that on June 1st, the command station of FO-29 released a new status report that shows current solar activity apparently is causing frequent 2 bit errors in the on-board-computer of FO-29. The satellite will stay in mode JA for in order to investigate the frequency of these errors.
The FO-29 command station is asking for reports from radio amateurs who can confirm the value of channel '2B' in CW telemetry. The position of channel '2B' is the 6th item transmitted after 'HI HI'. The value is '00' normally. Reports will be appreciated in e-mail addressed to:
[ANS thanks Kazu Sakamoto, JJ1WTK, for this report.]
Uplink 145.850, 145.900 MHz FM
Downlink 435.175 MHz FM, 9600 Baud FSK
Uplink 145.980 MHz FM
Downlink 436.500 MHz FM, 9600 Baud FSK
John, KD2BD, reports that KO-25 has gone temporarily deaf. During a descending pass over the Atlantic the satellite PB queue was "empty".
Downlink 145.825 MHz FM, 1200 baud PSK
Beacon 2401.500 MHz
Beacon reception reports should be sent to: email@example.com.
In response to many requests for information about methods of decoding OSCAR-11 signals, a package of hardware information has been added to the satellite web site. The site also contains some software for capturing data, decoding ASCII telemetry and WOD information. The URL is http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/clivew/
[ANS thanks Clive Wallis, G3CWV, for this information.]
Uplink 145.900, 145.920, 145.940, 145.860 MHz FM, 1200 bps Manchester
Downlink 437.0513 MHz SSB, 1200 bps RC-BPSK 1200 Baud PSK
Beacon 2401.1428 MHz.)
The telemetry is nominal. The S band transmitter is off.
Time is Sat May 30 11:12:46 1998 uptime is 1350/05:40:47 Array V 21.092 V +5V Bus 4.905 V +8.5V Bus 9.052 V +10V Bus 11.650 V +X (RX) Temp 11.495 D RX Temp -3.027 D Baseplt Temp 1.209 D RC PSK BP Temp 4.839 D RC PSK HPA Tmp 3.024 D +Y Array Temp 0.603 D PSK TX HPA Tmp 2.419 D +Z Array Temp 22.387 D RC PSK TX Out 0.518 W Total Array C= 0.436 Bat Ch Cur= 0.017 Ifb= 0.031 I+10V= 0.328 TX:010C BCR:88 PWRC:59E BT: A WC:25 EDAC: 2
General information and telemetry WOD files can be found at http://www.arrakis.es/~ea1bcu/wod.htm
[ANS thanks Miguel A. Menendez, EA1BCU, for this report.]
Downlink 145.825 MHz FM, 1200 Baud AFSK
Beacon 2401.220 MHz
The 145.825 MHz and 2401.220 MHz downlinks are off the air. Command stations are working on the problem.
[ANS thanks Jim White, WD0E, for this update]
Downlink 437.104 MHz SSB, 1200 Baud PSK AX.25
WO-18 is in MBL mode after a software crash. Additional information is not available at this time.
[ANS thanks the WO-18 Command Team for this news.]
Uplink 145.840, 145.860, 145.880, 145.900 MHz 1200 bps Manchester FSK
Downlink 437.125 MHz SSB, 1200 bps RC-BPSK
The telemetry is nominal.
Time is Sat May 30 11:53:09 1998 uptime is 1074/21:47:59. Array V 22.766 V +5V Bus 4.968 V +8.5V Bus 8.816 V +10V Bus 11.475 V +X (RX) Temp 0.692 D RX Temp 0.692 D Baseplt Temp 0.131 D RC PSK BP Temp 4.057 D RC PSK HPA Tmp 6.301 D +Y Array Temp 2.374 D PSK TX HPA Tmp 4.618 D +Z Array Temp 1.813 D RC PSK TX Out 0.630 W Total Array C= 0.271 Bat Ch Cur= 0.086 Ifb= 0.003 I+10V= 0.148 TX:001 BCR:39 PWRC:42AA BT:42 WC:53
General information and telemetry samples can be found at:
[ANS thanks Miguel A. Menendez, EA1BCU, for this report.]
Uplink 145.900 or 145.975 MHz FM
Downlink 435.120 MHz FM 9600 Baud FSK
The recent deep fades that have been experienced on UO-22 are apparently due to the reversal of antenna polarity on the downlink. The theory is that this is not a strange propagational effect (suggesting a change from RHCP to LHCP), but a perfectly natural occurrence.
[ANS thanks G3IOR for this information, and Chris Jackson, G7UPN/ZL2TPO, Operations Manager of UO-22]
Uplink 145.875, 145.900, 145.925, 145.950 MHz FM
Downlink 435.822 MHz SSB, 1200 Baud PSK
Telemetry is downloaded on 435.822 MHz at 1200 baud PSK.
[ANS thanks Alberto Zagni, I2KBD, ITAMSAT Mission Director for this information]
[Please send your Satellite or News reports to the ANS Editors at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to ANS Editor Dan James, NN0DJ, at email@example.com.]
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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT News Service Editor Dan James, NN0DJ, firstname.lastname@example.org.