February 16, 2003

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Thoughts on Columbia

It has been a sad couple of weeks for the space community with the loss of the crew of Columbia, STS-107.

From what I have read and heard, the families of the crew and those close to them want to the work to carry on.

Such is the nature of human kind to explore the limits of our endurance and knowledge.

The February edition of AMSAT-UK Oscar News has been dedicated to the memory of the crew.

[These are the toughts of Dave, G4DPZ, Editor ANS]

Columbia Astronaut Remains Identified

The remains of all seven members of Space Shuttle Columbia's crew have been positively identified at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

"We are comforted by the knowledge we have brought our seven friends home," said Bob Cabana, Director of Flight Crew Operations at the Johnson Space Center. "We are deeply indebted to the communities and volunteers who made this homecoming possible, and brought peace of mind to the crew's families, and the entire NASA family," he said.

The seven astronauts, Rick Husband (Colonel, USAF), Willie McCool (Commander, USN), Michael Anderson (Lieutenant Colonel, USAF), David Brown (Captain, USN), Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark (Commander, USN), and Ilan Ramon (Colonel, Israel Air Force), died Saturday, Feb 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up over the southwest United States.

Private memorial services for the crewmembers will take place within the next few weeks. Burial services for Ilan Ramon took place February 11 in Israel.

[ANS thanks Bruce Bingham, NASA for the above information]

ISS Crew Grieves Columbia Loss, Moves Forward

From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT February 12, 2003
To all radio amateurs

The all-ham crew members of the International Space Station said February 11 that while they grieve the loss of the shuttle Columbia crew, human space exploration must continue and they're ready to spend up to a year in space if necessary. The ISS crew made its first public comments since the February 1 shuttle disaster in two news conferences this week.

The crew has not used the NA1SS onboard ham stations since the last Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school contact in January. The next scheduled ARISS contact is set for Friday, February 21, with students at Oregon State University.

Commander Ken Bowersox, KD5JBP, said that once it became unlikely that there were any survivors from the Columbia catastrophe, "we discussed all of the different options for how it would affect us. ... We've got a Soyuz vehicle parked right outside."

He said the crew did not feel isolated and had plenty of contact with family and friends and that, while not operating at peak efficiency, the ISS crew members would continue to move forward with the "serious tasks" ahead of them.

[ANS thanks The ARRL for the above information]

Kalpana-1 Satellite

The METSAT launched by ISRO on 2 Sept 2002 will be named as Kalpana-1 in memory of late Ms Kalpana Chawla who was killed in the recent ill fated Columbia accident.

[ANS thanks Pop, VU2POP, AMSAT-India for the above information]


Congrats to Scott Migaldi, K9PO, he has earned the South Africa AMSAT Satellite Communication Achievement Award #US72.

If you would like to earn an AMSAT award, visit for a complete list of all the awards.

[ANS thanks Bruce Paige, KK5DO for the above information]

Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule

Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule as of 2003-02-13 18:00 UTC

[Editors Note... Due to the length of this weeks ANS bulletin, the provisional questions from the educational institutions have been moved to a seperate document, which will be posted with this bulletin. This has been done to help those who read the main body of the news over the air.]

The ARISS (a joint effort of AMSAT, the ARRL, NASA, the ARISS international partners including Canada, Russia, the European Partners, and Japan) operations team wishes to announce the following very tentative schedule for ARISS school contacts. This schedule is very fluid and may change at the last minute. Remember that amateur radio use on the ISS is considered secondary. Please check the various AMSAT and ARISS webpages for the latest announcements. Changes from the last announcement are noted with (***). Also, please check for possible live retransmissions ( Listen for the ISS on the downlink of 145.80 MHz.

For information about educational materials available from ISS partner space Agencies, please refer to links on the ARISS Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you are interested in supporting an ARISS contact, then you must fill in an application. The ARISS operations mentor team will not accept a direct request to support an ARISS contact.

You should also note that many schools think that they can request a specific date and time. It does not work that way. Once an application has been accepted, the ARISS mentors will work with the school to determine a mutually agreeable date.

Websites that may be of interest include:

Here are the email addresses:
ARISS-Canada and all other countries not covered: (Daniel Lamoureux VE2KA)
ARISS-Europe: (J. Hahn, DL3LUM / PA1MUC)
ARISS-Japan and all Region 3 countries: (Keigo Komuro JA1KAB)
ARISS-Russia: (Valerie Agabekov N2WW/UA6HZ)
ARISS-USA: (The American Radio Relay League)

ISS Expedition 6 crew:
Kenneth Bowersox KD5JBP
Nikolai Budarin RV3FB
Donald Pettit KD5MDT

Field School Park Ridge, Illinois

Hochwald-Gymnasium, Wadern, Germany, Direct via DL0WR
TBD due to scheduling conflict with resupply mission

Hirano Elementary School, Kobe, Japan direct via 8N3HES
Tue 2003-02-18 07:59 UTC (***)

Cowichan Secondary School, Duncan, BC, Canada, Direct via VE7POH
TBD 2003-02
Oregon State University
Option #1 Fri 2003-02-21 20:36 UTC telebridge via NN1SS (***)

ISIS Malignani, Cervignano del Friuli, Italy

Lounsberry Hollow Middle School, New Jersey

Krueger School of Applied Technology, San Antonio, Texas
Fri 2003-02-28 19:40 UTC (***)

Saint Ursula's College, Toowoomba, Australia

The latest ARISS announcement and successful school list in now available on the ARISS web site. Several ways to get there.
click on English (sorry I don't know French)
you are now at
click on News

Currently the ARISS operations team has a list of over 60 schools that we hope will be able to have a contact during 2003. As the schedule becomes more solidified, we will be letting everyone know. Current plans call for an average of one scheduled school contact per week.

[ANS thanks Charlie, AJ9N, for the above information]

OSCAR Satellite Downlink Signals in RealAudio

Franco Borsa, HB9OAB has done an excellent job collecting audio samples of OSCAR satellite downlink signals in RealAudio.

They are at
#8, 9 and 13 are recent recordings of AO-7's downlink on Mode A and B.

Franco reports he was using a simple home-made personal audio DSP/FFT decoder and was recorded directy with WLOG2000, his personal Home LogBook.

1- RS15 cw beacon December 2002
Received with my personal DSP >+30dB

2- RS15 SSB HB9oab call December 2002
Signal of difficult but workable downlink without problems mode A 144>29

3- AO27 December 2002 AO27 activity FM MODE J

4- AO27 refr. December 2002
AO27 activity FM with refraction via MonteRosa >3000msm Mode J at 0 el

5- FO29 December 2002
QSO activity SSB mode J - very stable and strong signal always!

6- FO20 December 2002
QSO activity SSB mode J - very stable and strong signal always!

7- UO14 December 2002
QSO activity FM mode J - very stable and strong signal always! HB9<>EA8

8- AO07 December 2002
QSO activity SSB mode B - very stable and strong signal always!

9- AO07 CQ notaker December 2002
QSO activity SSB mode B - very stable and strong signal always but no reply activity!

10- ISS PKT December 2002 ISS AX25 packet beacon APRS

11- RS11 AFSK December 2002 RS11 145825 AFSK1200 beacon/tlmtr

12- AO40 PSK JUNE 2002 AO40 MB beacon reeived with me /p system

13- AO07 January 2003 AO07 MODE A strong! no taker... dw 29450

14- SO50 January 2003 SO50 67Hz First QSO HB9OAB<>G3LGR

15- Sporadic E SV8 hb9oab/mm KM08 JM98 june 2001
HB9OAB/MM received from OE3MWS (tnx!)

[ANS thanks Perry, W3PK and Franco, for the above information]

John GM4IHJ, Silent Key

It is with great sadness that I have to report that John GM4IHJ died this morning 9th Feb.

After a two and a half year battle against skin cancer, John had a stroke last weekend and was admitted into hospital where he died peacefully this morning.

Commander John Branegan R.N. GM4IHJ died 9 Feb 2003 aged 76 years.

He never used the 'Commander' title once he took early retirement from the Navy.

He had a fascinating and distinguished career in the Royal Navy on Aircraft Carriers and Nuclear Submarines. An expert on radio communications, Radar, Guidance and Navigation systems. He was also in the Icelandic "Cod War" in charge of the difficult Arctic Radio Communications.

A very fit man who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

He was latterly based in Rosyth Scotland and he used to cycle all the way to and from work from Saline in Fife each day, a very steep road. John preferred cycling to driving his car and was riding up the <steep> hill to his friend Hamish every day until very recently.

He considers it likely his skin cancer was caused by his service in the tropics, where he would have been exposed to the Sun's high UV radiation.

I met John on the OSCAR 7 satellite when he was GM8OXQ (and I was GM8HEY) in the late 70's and was delighted to find that he was a near neighbour, living only a mile away over the hill from me.

Over the next 25 years he taught me everything from how to work out an orbit for an unknown satellite, how Doppler shift worked, how to write a satellite tracking program from very simple ones that used EQX up to complex elliptical orbits with footprints shown on a graphical map. He was ahead of his time in the use of home computers to track satellites and produced some amazing programs for the ZX81, ZX Spectrum and Sinclair QL.

Knowledgeable and strongly opinionated on almost any subject and extremely well read, with interests from ancient history and geology to Space and Mathematics.

A very unselfish and generous person who supplied amateur radio equipment freely to others in countries who had no way of obtaining it so that they could operate on the new satellites. A lot of Russian satellite operators have benefited from John's generosity.

A bachelor, surely no wife would allow a 6 foot dish in the livingroom for satellite experiments! His house was crammed full of radio gear and books. There were antennas in the loft, on the chimneys and in the back garden. Nothing very ambitious, because his small bungalow and garden would not allow them, but sufficient for him to study all the bands that interested him, from 15m up to 12GHz. He had a full size 3 ele 10m beam and 50MHz beam in the back garden. He worked some good DX on 6m and also had the first GM to Balearic Islands QSO on 144MHz via Sporadic E.

John spent a huge amount of time monitoring the bands, with several radio and TV receivers running on many channels looking for signs of anything unusual and was always the first to know that the band was going to open up on SpE, FAI or Aurora. He would use many novel radio sources for examining the Ionosphere, including 'pulse stealing' from the 153MHz Wick Auroral Radar and the Fylingdales BMEWS. Many times he would kindly phone me to say that Norwegian Telly has just gone Auroral or getting a bit of SpE on Band 1 from the south east possibly Arabic!

He has the most complete daily record of his observations from the time I met him until the present day, all the events, meteor showers and times that he observed a satellite sub horizon or found a short opening to South Africa are logged in his shorthand style. At various times he would become interested in studying some particular aspect of radio and would dedicate his time to watching every pass of that satellite or whatever so that he would know what was normal and what was abnormal. He was a true experimenter and discovered many new things about the ionosphere in both the Arctic/Antarctic and the Equatorial regions from his observations in a small Scottish village.

He always embraced the new technological tools that became available with the home computer. He used software such as AF9Ys FFTDSP to examine doppler shift on HF satellite beacons at the antipodes. Weather satellite picture receiving software to look for signs of break up due to Es or Aurora. Usually at least 3 computers were running in his shack monitoring different channels.

Although he much preferred the original analog VHF satellites to the digisats, he was never the less keen to gain all the knowledge on how to put a digital satellite station together. He built PSK and FSK modems and wrote helpful booklets on how to get everything configured and working.

From 1989 to 2001 John wrote a weekly Satgen bulletin a grand total of 682 Satgens! This was distributed worldwide by packet radio and then also on the Internet. There was always something in these Satgens that was topical and practical and they are a mine of information as well as historical value. Every one can be found online at

In the past year John had a heart pacemaker fitted and this curtailed his transmitting but that was didn't stop him from continuing the receiving experiments.

Always keen to talk to the youngsters in the village who all loved to come round to his house to find out things about fossils or volcanoes or Mars or the War or... He had many watercolours that the kids had produced for him stuck up on his livingroom/shack wall beside a couple of large black and white photos he had taken on one of his Aircraft Carriers showing some dramatic pilot errors.

John loved to educate others and would travel to Scottish amateur radio club meetings and conventions to give guest talks on subjects from Satellites to how the Ionosphere works. He produced booklets on his own printer, bound them and supplied them to whoever requested them.

He had a deep interest in space and astronomy and was delighted to have witnessed those magnificent comets Hyakutake and then Hale-Bopp.

As well as publishing numerous papers in AMSAT-NA Journal, John authored the Space Radio Handbook published by the RSGB. This book highlights John's experimental approach and is essential reading to anyone interested in space and radio communications.

We will miss him dearly.

[ANS thanks David Anderson GM4JJJ for the above information]

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS. RS-12. RS-13. RS-15. RS-20. AO-7. AO-10. UO-11. UO-14. AO-16. LO-19. FO-20. UO-22. KO-23. KO-25. IO-26. AO-27. FO-29. GO-32. SO-33. PO-34. UO-36. AO-40. SO-41. SO-42. NO-44. NO-45. MO-46. AO-49. SO-50

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT News Service Editor Dave Johnson, G4DPZ,