March 23, 2003

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Shuttle Columbia's Flight Data Recorder Found

Columbia accident investigators found a key flight data recorder Wednesday near Hemphill, Texas. The device could shed new light on what was happening to the spacecraft before it disintegrated over east Texas on Feb. 1. Seven astronauts, three of them amateur radio operators were lost in the accident.

About the size of a bread box, the instrument uses magnetic tape to record data such as temperatures, pressures, vibrations, acceleration, electrical currents and strains on the vehicle. The recorder was recovered intact and taken to Johnson Space Center, where it must be cleaned up before determining how to get to the data without damaging it.

The recorder starts up about 10 minutes before the shuttle reaches the first traces of the upper atmosphere. Investigators believe it would have continued to run until the vehicle broke up.

To date, investigators have been forced to rely on telemetry data beamed back from the shuttle, video and photographs in attempt to piece together what destroyed the Columbia.

That information has helped NASA build a timeline of events as the orbiter crossed the southwestern United States on way to a planned landing at Kennedy Space Center..

[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

NASA Ham-Astronaut Among Those Meeting with "Future Explorers"

NASA astronauts and educators are traveling the nation, meeting face-to-face with future space explorers -- both teachers and students. Astronauts Barbara Morgan, KD5VNP; Leland Melvin; and educator astronaut co-manager Debbie Brown are visiting schools, museums, and teacher conferences in New York, California, Texas, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Idaho during March and April. Their goal is to reach out to discuss student and teacher involvement in the nation's space program. Nearly 6000 students, family members, and friends have nominated their teachers to become permanent members of NASA's Astronaut Corps. One Michigan student nominated his teacher saying, "He makes me want to come to school every day." The application deadline for the Educator Astronaut Program is April 30, 2003. For event locations and dates, contact Gretchen Cook-Anderson, 202-358-0836. To learn more about the Educator Astronaut Program and other NASA education activities, visit the NASA Web site at

[ANS thanks ARRL for the above information.]

Paul Harvey Plugs Ham Radio's Emergency Communications Role

Veteran ABC Radio Networks commentator Paul Harvey on March 19 offered some kind words for amateur radio. The mention was the second item on "page four" of his Paul Harvey Noon News and Comment program: "America's quiet warriors are the legion of ham radio operators, 700,000 of them, who are always at ready for backup duty in emergencies -- amateur, unpaid, uncelebrated, civilian radio operators, during and after floods and fires and tornadoes. After the 9/11 attacks, hams were indispensable in reuniting friends and families. Most recently it was they who expedited the search for debris after the disaster to the space shuttle Columbia, and right now, at this moment, they are involved in homeland security to a greater degree than you would want me to make public." The commentary's enigmatic and mysterious final sentence -- typical of Harvey's habit of leaving his listeners hanging -- apparently refers to the fact that many Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Emergency Service (RACES) teams have ramped up their alert status as hostilities get under way in the Middle East.

[ANS thanks ARRL for the above information.]

Spring Satellites and Spaghetti

The Indian River Amateur Radio Club (IRAC) is pleased to announce that our third Spring, Satellites & Spaghetti day will be held on 29 March 2003. Our objective is to give operators an opportunity to try their hands at satellite operating and introduce them to the world of amateur satellites. We will be using the club callsign, W4NLX, but you may also hear members using their own callsigns as well. The event is not restricted to club members and anyone who would like to learn about amateur satellites is welcome to attend. We are planning to be active on as many of the FM and SSB LEO satellites as possible. The park opens at 1200z and we expect to be operating until around 2100z.

Event: Spring, Satellites & Spaghetti III
Location: Kiwanas Island Park, Merritt Island, Florida
Grid - EL98qi
Date: Saturday, 29 March 2003
Time: ~1200-2100 UTC
Modes: FM and SSB LEO satellites

[ANS thanks Lee, KU4OS, for the above information.]

ARISS Continues while Shuttle Fleet Grounded

With the grounding of the space shuttle fleet and planned cut back of ISS crew members from 3 to 2, certain Amateur Radio on the International Space Station activities will be affected.

ARISS Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, says there will be less scientific work taking place on the International Space Station. Bauer believes the most probable scenario for a crew change will be that U.S. Astronaut Ed Lu, KC5WKK and Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko will fly to the ISS on a Soyuz rocket to become the Expedition 7 crew. But Bauer adds that Astronaut Mike Foale, KB5UAC, is a back-up for the crew -- also in training -- just in case he is needed. He also notes that Astronaut Pedro Duque, KC5RGG, who planned to use the ARISS equipment on the upcoming Soyuz transport flight, will now probably fly in the fall.

Bauer says that the only major setback for ham radio so far concerns upgrading the ISS ham station itself. With the shuttles not flying, consumables like food and water are the highest priority items to be launched on the upcoming Progress re-supply missions. This means that the ARISS hardware that was planned to be flown this year will probably be delayed. The gear waiting for transport includes the Slow Scan Television equipment, plus Kenwood D700 and Yaesu FT-100 radios and the Naval Academy's PCsat-2 ham satellite. Bauer says that this equipment will be kept ready for any upcoming transport flight opportunities to the ISS.

The good news: Bauer says that the opportunities for school contacts will remain at the same. Look for them at a rate of at least two a week. Maybe more if the Expedition 7 crew finds itself with extra free time.

[ANS thanks Amateur Radio Newsline for the above information.]

Persistence Makes Perfect for Space Station QSO

Persistence paid off March 11 when students at Eugene Field School in Park Ridge, Illinois, finally got to quiz astronaut Don Pettit, KD5MDT, about life aboard the International Space Station. One earlier effort failed when the earth station and NA1SS ended up on different 2-meter frequencies due to a communication breakdown. The contact, arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, also was postponed several times because of schedule conflicts.

Pettit answered 19 questions put to him by the students. One topic discussed was Pettit's interest and research into thin films of water, which, he said, look much like soap bubbles in space. He also described how a tin of food that would normally float off the table while he was eating would stay in place if he applied a small drop of water to the tin's bottom. Pettit explained that the surface tension of the water will keep the container from floating off.

Students expressed their delight with a round of applause at the contact's completion. Audio of the contact was distributed to five other elementary schools and two middle schools in the suburban Chicago school district. Several local TV and radio affiliates showed up to record the contact and interview the students afterwards.

"This was special for everyone here," said Tony Clishem, a curriculum coordinator at one of the schools listening in on the contact.

Eugene Field School counts among its alumni former First Lady and now US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and actor Harrison Ford. The school has 600 students in kindergarten through grade 5.

The contact was handled via W6SRJ at Santa Rosa Junior College in California. Earth station operators were Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, Herb Sullivan, K6QXB, and Don Dalby, KE6UAY. Two-way audio was handled via a WorldCom teleconferencing circuit. Tim Bosma, W6ISS, moderated the ARISS QSO.

ARISS is an international project with participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. For more information, visit the ARISS Web site at

[ANS thanks ARRL for the above information.]

Mars Express Another Step Closer to Delivery

Mars Express, the first European spacecraft to visit the planet Mars, has completed its tests at Toulouse, France. After six months extensive thermal environmental, mechanical and electric tests, the spacecraft with the Beagle 2 lander will leave for Baikonur, Kazakhstan on 19 March 2003 onboard an Antonov 124 aircraft. It will be launched early June 2003 onboard a Russian Soyuz-Fregat rocket.

The spacecraft will benefit from an exceptionally favorable launch window in June 2003; at this date, the distance separating the planets Earth and Mars will be minimal, an opportunity only occurring all 17 years. From December 2003, Mars Express will be inserted into an elliptical quasi-polar orbit.

Seven scientific instruments on the orbiter will perform the following tasks: global high-resolution imaging, global mineralogical mapping, global atmospheric circulation and mapping of the atmospheric composition, radar sounding of the subsurface structure, study of surface-atmosphere interactions, and interaction of the atmosphere with the interplanetary environment.

Mars Express will also carry the Beagle 2 lander which will detach from the spacecraft and land on the Martian surface. It will collect and analyze rock and soil samples on the spot.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

Artemis Relays First Envisat Images

The first satellite-relayed images from Envisat have been received, via the Artemis data-relay spacecraft in geostationary orbit, at the European Space Agency's data processing center near Rome.

For Artemis, the Advanced Relay Technology Mission, the image transmission caps a historic, 18-month recovery operation that brought the spacecraft to its assigned geostationary orbit at 21.5 degrees East after a July 2001 launch that left Artemis stranded in an orbit far lower than intended.

Artemis carries payloads supporting land mobile communications, navigation systems and data relay systems. The spacecraft operates at S-band (2 GHz), Ka-band (26 GHz) and optical frequencies. Artemis and Envisat communicate at Ka-band frequencies.

Setting up the operational data relay system in the Ka-band between Artemis and Envisat is a first for Europe. The system proves the space qualifications of new technologies and operational procedures, along with demonstrating the complex software used in both the ground and space segments. It also shows the usefulness of data relay payloads.

Data from various instruments will continue to be downloaded to the Envisat ground station and data processing centre in Sweden, but the addition of the data relay satellite offers several important new capabilities to the Envisat data network.

The Swedish ground station can 'see' the satellite for about 10 minutes of Envisat's 100-minute orbit, and for 10 daily orbits. Because of its orbital position above Envisat, Artemis can remain in contact with Envisat on almost all its 14 daily orbits, and for longer periods.

The use of Artemis will also enable the European Space Agency to increase the amount of data acquired by Envisat anywhere in the world, particularly in the case of the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument, increase the flexibility of the mission's ground segment, and provide a back-up in the event of a problem with the onboard recorders, which will improve mission reliability.

Envisat recently marked its first year in orbit. Launched on 28 February 2002 from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana, it is the largest and most capable Earth observation satellite ever built. Its suite of 10 sensors is designed to provide a comprehensive view of the Earth's oceans, land, atmosphere and ice caps.

The optical data relay system will be used between Artemis and the French Earth observation satellite, SPOT 4, starting in April. In 2005 the Automatic Transfer Vehicle will start using a regular data relay service and possibly starting in 2006 Columbus, the European element of the International Space Station, will establish data relay links to Artemis for nearly five hours a day.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule as of 2003-03-19 19:00 UTC

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 adirect 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:

Your completely filled out application should be returned to the nearest coordinating ARISS region if your specific region is not listed. E-mail is the preferred method of submitting an application.

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

Saint Ursula's College, Toowoomba, Australia
Wed 2003-03-19 08:09 UTC via VK5ZAI
Congratulations Don KD5MDT and Saint Ursula for a successful contact.

Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee, Tallahassee, FL (***) 2003-03-22
15:26 UTC telebridge via WH6PN (***)

Higashi Kaneko Junior High School, Japan
2003-03-26 09:45 UTC via 8N1ISS (***)

Osnovna Sola Selnica ob Dravi Slovenia
2003-03-26 19:04 UTC via S59TTT (***)
Cowichan Secondary School, Duncan, BC, Canada, Direct via VE7POH TBD

Lounsberry Hollow Middle School, New Jersey

The latest ARISS announcement and successful school list is now available on the ARISS web site. Several ways to get there.

Latest ARISS announcements and news

Successful school list


If you can not get into the GSFC site, then go directly to the RAC site.

click on English
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 Sufana, AJ9N, for the above information.]

AMSAT-DC Annual Meeting and Space Seminar

WHO: All hams, students and educators are invited.

WHAT: Talks, demos, tutorials and socializing about amateur satellites and balloon experiments.

WHEN: Sunday, May 4, 2003 starting at 1:00 P.M.

WHERE: NASA GSFC Visitor Center auditorium, Greenbelt, Md. 20771

WHY: Fun, education, public service, cool, and more fun.

HOW: Talk-in on 146.835 MHz WA3NAN/R and on APRS map.

HOST: Pat Kilroy, N8PK,


[ANS thanks Pat Kilroy, N8PK, 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 Scott Lindsey-Stevens, N3ASA,