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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, and ended the mission with favorable weather conditions and a near-perfect landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, June 12th. The mission returned home US astronaut Andy Thomas after more than four months in orbit aboard Mir, marking the official end of NASA's Shuttle-Mir program.
On Sunday, June 7th the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the Discovery-Mir complex were actively working on the final transfer of water and logistical supplies, in preparation for undocking of the two spacecraft. A photo and video survey of the interior of the Russian space station was also on the agenda. Approximately 1200 pounds of water and almost 4,700 pounds of resupply material or return items were moved between the two vehicles before the hatches between the two spacecraft were closed for the final time.
After the hatches were closed, the Shuttle and Mir separated on time while flying above Russia, southwest of Moscow and north of the Ukrainian border. Following separation, STS-91 Pilot Dom Gorie maneuvered the shuttle away from the Mir. He then performed a nose-forward fly-around of Mir allowing the Shuttle to reach a point approximately 240 feet directly in front of the space station.
By Wednesday, June 10th, several records had been achieved. Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Diaz broke the previous record for time spent on board the space shuttle, as he passed the mark of 1,211 hours set by astronaut Jeff Hoffman over the course of five missions. STS-91 was Chang-Diaz's sixth space flight. In another first, navigational data on board Discovery was updated using data from the Global Positioning Satellite system, marking the inaugural use of the GPS satellite constellation to provide navigational information to a manned spacecraft in orbit.
On Thursday, the seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery completed most of their pre-landing packing and made sure that all of the systems needed for landing were working well.
The successful landing on Friday, June 12th, culminated 977 total days spent in orbit by the seven U.S. astronauts who have stayed aboard Mir since the Shuttle-Mir program began. Of those, 907 days were spent as actual Mir crewmembers. Friday's landing also marked the end of an 812-day continuous U.S. presence in space.
[ANS thanks NASA for this information]
US astronaut Andy Thomas, KD5CHF, said good-bye to Mir on June 8th as he left for home aboard the shuttle Discovery after spending 130 days in space. Before he left the aging Russian space outpost, Thomas broadcast a general "thank you" to the worldwide amateur community via the R0MIR packet system. "I am leaving Mir today, and this will be my last message," he said. "Thank you all for your interest in the mission and your messages." Thomas again apologized for not being able to give individual replies. "I wish you all every success. Good-bye and good luck."
The day after Discovery docked with Mir, Thomas engaged in a last-minute flurry of random Amateur Radio contacts on 2-meter FM simplex. Al Lark, KD4SFF, in Greenville, South Carolina, was one of the lucky stations to talk with Andy. Thomas told Lark that "a decent hot shower is going to be the first order of business" on Earth. Following his chat with Lark, Thomas also worked WA6LR and AA2DR. "You guys have given me a lot of pleasure during my time up here," Thomas told AA2DR.
Australian Peter Ellis, VK1KEP, also spoke with Thomas and found himself thrust into celebrity status as a result. Thomas, a native of Australia who also holds the call sign VK5MIR, told Ellis that he was the first VK1 he'd ever worked. Ellis soon wound up in the midst of a media frenzy -- on local radio twice, the front page of the Canberra Times, on TV in Canberra and Sydney, and on ABC Radio nationwide. The entire story is available at the following URL:
During his Mir stay, Thomas spoke frequently with his family via Amateur Radio, sometimes with Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, serving as the Earth station. Hutchison also set up phone patches with Thomas' father, Adrian, who lives in Adelaide. Hutchison also provided the elder Thomas with a computer to track Mir and a receiver so he could listen to his son's conversations.
[ANS thanks NASA, the ARRL and Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, for this information]
AMSAT-UK's 13th Annual Colloquium takes place at the University of Surrey, starting July 31st and ending August 2, 1998. According to Richard Limebear, G3RWL, the lecture program this year has been enlarged, with an additional 90-minute session to accommodate the extensive response to the call for papers. Included is this years program is a presentation by NASA astronaut Don Thomas, KC5FVF.
In addition to the presentations, there will also be the usual standard events, including satellite Command Station visits, the annual dinner and auction, the AMSAT-UK annual meeting, microwave equipment testing, and the Friday evening barbecue on the University grounds.
Information about the Colloquium is available on the AMSAT-UK's web site at he following URL:
This year there is also a related event at University of Surrey during the two days prior to the Colloquium; the International Space Station gathering. This ISS meeting is also open to everyone.
[ANS thanks Richard Limebear, G3RWL, Colloquium Program Organizer and AMSAT-UK Communications Officer for this information]
The TMSAT micro-satellite is currently scheduled for launch on June 23, 1998. The digital amateur radio satellite is to be placed into orbit aboard a Zenit launch vehicle from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome. The satellite is scheduled for an 821km sun-synchronous orbit.
A brief overview of the TMSAT satellite and commissioning plan is available at the following URL:
Further information about TMSAT will be posted to UO-22 as the launch draws near, and updates on the commissioning itself will be uploaded to TMSAT and UO-22 following the launch.
All initial commissioning information is scheduled to be available using a 9600 baud downlink, so stations equipped to receive any of the present 9600 baud amateur spacecraft will be also able to receive TMSAT on 436.925 MHz.
Stay tuned to ANS for further updates as the launch date draws near.
[ANS thanks Chris Jackson, G7UPN/ZL2TPO, for this information]
Rosalie White, WA1STO, and Dan Miller, K3UFG, tell ANS that two very interesting workshops will be available at the ARRL Southwestern Division Convention. Entitled 'Amateur Satellites -- Today and Tomorrow' and 'The FCC RF Exposure Regulations', both will feature experts in the satellite and RF exposure fields.
The workshops will be held during the convention on August 14, 1998.
The satellite workshop will feature AMSAT-NA's own Keith Baker, KB1SF, along with other AMSAT experts from various parts of the US. Topics to be covered include:
Also to be covered is satellite equipment requirements, antennas, rotators, operating protocol, how to track satellites, Phase 3-D, and where to get facts from AMSAT, ARRL and the Internet.
The RF Safety Seminar will explain changes to the US radio regulations that suddenly had ham radio operators interested in RF exposure. Ed Hare, W1RFI, ARRL Lab Supervisor, has put together a workshop that defines the new rules, clarifies what is required of ham operators, and even explains the theory behind the requirements.
The ARRL Educational Activities Department is sponsoring the seminars. To register for either seminar, contact Dan Miller, K3UFG, at ARRL Headquarters. A toll free number is available: 1-860-594-0340, or write to the League at 225 Main, Newington, CT 06111.
There is a small fee for attendance. Those attending either seminar all day will earn 0.5 Continuing Education Units.
[ANS thanks the ARRL, Rosalie White, WA1STO, and Dan Miller, K3UFG, for this information]
Hank Riley, N1LTV, tells ANS the flight of the SkyQuest expendable balloon package was successful. The flight took place on Saturday, May 30th from the Taunton, New England National Weather Service office.
N1LTV said the balloon lifted up into "a deep blue New England sky" and as advertised, the balloon's signal was widely heard, despite a much lower ERP than expected. Stations all across New England, New Jersey and Pennsylvania reported receiving the balloons downlink signal.
According to the SkyQuest HF Net, the balloon signals were evident for approximately 2 hours, indicating a healthy peak altitude. The onboard micro-controller performed flawlessly. Also flawless was the superb net control provided by Steve Ford, WB8IMY, through the facilities of ARRL Headquarters station W1AW. The net had almost 30 check-ins, and has provided the greatest feedback so far with respect to confirmed signal reach. N1LTV was able to monitor the last several minutes of the HF net, and reports he found it "to be totally enjoyable."
N1LTV is seeking operators who have extended tapes of the balloon telemetry signals that they could loan to SkyQuest for analysis. Extended, uninterrupted tapes are required to decode the altimeter data, and need not be perfect in quality because exact frequencies are not relevant to altitude measurement. Hank is also seeking more signal reports of any station that monitored SkyQuest during its flight, especially in Maine and Canada.
Reports should be sent to the following e-mail address:
[ANS thanks Hank Riley, N1LTV, and SkyQuest for this information]
Papers are due July 1, 1998 for the 24th annual Eastern VHF/UHF Conference, August 21-23rd at Harley Hotel, Enfield, Connecticut. The conference is sponsored by the Eastern VHF/UHF Society and the North East Weak Signal Group.
Subjects to be covered include VHF/UHF operating, antennas, equipment design, interfacing and testing. All submittals must be camera-ready with one-inch borders and separate photos with accompanying page layout. Send submittals to:
Bruce Wood N2LIV 1998 Eastern VHF/UHF Conference Chairman & Proceedings Editor 3 Maple Glen Lane Nesconset, NY 11767-1711
This year's conference will feature both speakers and a technical laboratory. Gerry Rodski, K3MKZ, of SSB Electronics, will conduct a preamp noise-figure measurement workshop covering 50 MHz - 10 GHz. Joe Reisert, W1JR, will manage the antenna gain-measurement range from 222 MHz and up, and all entrants will receive a hard copy plot of their antenna. Ernie Gray, W1MRQ, will host a VHF-SHF trivia quiz.
The ARRL will publish the Proceedings, which will be available at the event. More information is available at the following URL:
[ANS thanks the ARRL, Eastern VHF/UHF Society and the North East Weak Signal Group for this information]
ANS 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
The PBBS is running a Kantronics KPC-9612+ V.8.1 TNC. The commands a similar to most PBBS and BBS systems.
[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.
Uplink 145.858 to 145.898 MHz CW/SSB
Downlink 29.354 to 29.394 MHz CW/SSB
RS-15 has apparently lost its TLM beacon, however the transponder remains on and working.
The 435 MHz beacon (only) is operational. 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 past weeks. 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 guestimated 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 the command station of FO-29 has released a report showing current solar activity apparently is causing frequent 2 bit errors in the on-board-computer. 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
Downlink efficiencies are in the 90% range.
[ANS thanks Jim Weisenberger, AA7KC for this report]
Uplink 145.980 MHz FM
Downlink 436.500 MHz FM, 9600 Baud FSK
ANS has learned that as of June 6th KO-25 uplinks are not being accepted by the satellite. There is a continuous message being transmitted, "We will reboot the OBC S/W of KO-25 for a while."
The satellite software was apparently still being reloaded when observed on June 11th at 1645 UTC. ANS has no further information when the reloading process will be completed. Stay tuned for further developments.
[ANS thanks Jim Weisenberger, AA7KC for this report]
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 Fri Jun 12 22:44:30 1998 uptime is 1363/17:12:04. Temperatures below are at the end of a night orbit. +X (RX) Temp -12.709 D RX Temp 0.603 D Baseplt Temp 0.603 D +Z Array Temp -18.760 D RC PSK BP Temp -6.658 D RC PSK HPA Tmp -6.053 D +Y Array Temp -25.416 D PSK TX HPA Tmp -6.053 D RC PSK TX Out 0.360 W Total Array C= 0.058 Bat Ch Cur=-0.143 Ifb= 0.047 I+10V= 0.121 TX:0109 BCR:7B PWRC:59E BT: A WC:25 EDAC:AB
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 reported to be working on the problem. No additional information is available at this time.
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 Fri Jun 12 23:21:10 1998 uptime is 1088/09:16:00. Temperatures below are at the end of a night orbit. +X (RX) Temp -12.209 D RX Temp -2.113 D Baseplt Temp -0.991 D RC PSK BP Temp -6.039 D RC PSK HPA Tmp -7.722 D +Y Array Temp -21.744 D PSK TX HPA Tmp -6.039 D +Z Array Temp -16.696 D RC PSK TX Out 0.520 W Total Array C= 0.071 Bat Ch Cur=-0.129 Ifb= 0.008 I+10V= 0.131 TX:016 BCR:1E PWRC:36E BT:3C WC: 0
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
More information on the satellite is available at the following URL:
Regular status updates on UO-22 are expected in the near future from 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 reported as being downloaded on 435.822 MHz at 1200 baud PSK.
No additional information is available at this time.
[Please send any amateur satellite news or 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.