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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS022 (1997)

ARLS022 Mir back on the air

Space Bulletin 022  ARLS022
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT  July 2, 1997
To all radio amateurs

ARLS022 Mir back on the air

Ham radio aboard the Mir has been getting some casual use again as
the three-man crew continues efforts to get life back to normal
aboard the Russian space station. General ham radio operation was
suspended in the immediate wake of the mishap last week that damaged
one of the Mir's compartments. But this week, US ham-astronaut Mike
Foale, KB5UAC, expressed ''thanks for all your good wishes'' to hams
around the world. The British-born Foale is using both 2 meters and
70 cm ''sparingly,'' according to SAREX Principal Investigator Matt
Bordelon, KC5BTL. Werner Staubitzer, VO1CAT, in Pouch Cove,
Newfoundland, reports he had ''a lengthy QSO'' with Foale over the
weekend. Foale told VO1CAT that the crew was ''feeling fine and is
making repairs to the damages as best they can while waiting for the
required parts to arrive.'' Ray Webber, ZS6RSW, in Pretoria, South
Africa, reports that he connected to Mir on packet (using the
145.800/200 split-frequency pair) on June 28.

Foale and his Russian cosmonaut crew mates again found themselves in
crisis mode Wednesday, July 2, when the spacecraft lost attitude
control. In a packet message to MIREX CEO Dave Larsen, N6CO, Foale
related how, after the alarm sounded, ''we go rushing from one dark
module to another, trying to look out windows, and point the solar
arrays. The station dies very quickly if we don't do this.'' Foale
compared the situation to ''being on a yacht at sea, with the wind
changing all the time, and having to rush around pulling sails down,
or putting them up, before a storm comes.''

Foale said the attitude failure has made the crew very wary of the
next Progress rocket docking, set for Monday, July 7. ''Life on Mir
is characterized by long periods of monotonous, serene calm, and
short interludes of extreme frenzy, I am learning,'' Foale said.

The Progress rocket will supply cables and a special plate to fit
over the hatch of the damaged Spektr science module. The crew will
try to make cable connections to get the station back up to full
power. Another Russian crew is scheduled to fly up in August to seal
the leak and put the Spektr module back on line. Meanwhile, Foale
and the cosmonauts are working on their new--but faulty--oxygen
generator to get it back on line. They are using incendiary candles
to supply oxygen temporarily.

Although the cosmonauts have begun practicing the repair routines,
they and Foale still have a lot of time on their hands, and much of
that is spent in darkness to conserve electricity. This means Foale
has time for hamming, and, so far, no one's objected to his using a
few watts of power for the radio. While Mir remains a space station
in trouble, Foale is providing Amateur Radio with an intimate view
of the danger and drama.

KB5UAC plans to operate frequently, whenever NASA and Moscow are not
using their main communication channels. Look for him on 145.800
MHz, operating split. Occasionally, while Mir is over the US, you
also may find him on 145.985 MHz (simplex).

To track the Mir spacecraft, check out The page
presents a graphical representation of Mir's location and updates
every minute.

(thanks to Roy Neal, K6DUE, for his contribution to this report)


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