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Civilian Space Traveler Already Making Ham Radio Contacts from Space

(L-R) Charles Simonyi, KE7KDP, Oleg Kotov and Fyodor Yurchikhin, RN3FI. [NASA Photo]

Front row (L-R): Expedition 15's Yurchikhin and Kotov with spaceflight participant Simonyi. Back row (L-R): The outgoing Expedition 14's Lopez-Alegria, Tyurin and Suni Williams, KD5PLB, who will join Expedition 15. [NASA TV]

The Soyuz TMA-10 transporter carrying Yurchikhin, Kotov and Simonyi approaches the ISS on April 10. [NASA Photo]

NEWINGTON, CT, April 11, 2007 -- Less than a day in space, civilian space traveler Charles Simonyi, KE7KDP/HA5SIK, is already making contacts with the earthbound ham radio community from NA1SS. The billionaire software pioneer and aviator arrived April 10 at the International Space Station with the Expedition 15 crew of Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin, RN3FI, and Oleg Kotov. Yurchikhin, Kotov and Simonyi launched in a Soyuz spacecraft two days earlier from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, says he's received several reports that Simonyi has been making contacts, including some the evening of April 10 with stations in Hawaii and the US Northwest.

"Expect Charles to be on the air more during his mission on ISS," Bauer says. "The ARISS International team has provided him pass times to support these contacts."

Ron Hashiro, AH6RH, in Honolulu was among the lucky ones. He tells ARRL that after putting out a blind call April 10 at around 0400 UTC on 144.49 MHz FM simplex, he spoke not only with Simonyi but with Expedition 14/15 Flight Engineer Suni Williams, KD5PLB.

"I mentioned to her that I had listened to her earlier contact with the school in India and it was a thrill to speak with her directly," Hashiro recounted. "She said that Hawaii was her favorite place and had some relatives in Hawaii."

Then, Hashiro says, Williams said there was someone else interested in talking with him, and Simonyi came on a few minutes later.

"I welcomed Charles to ham radio and asked him if he was the author of the "Hungarian notation" of Windows programming, which he acknowledged," said Hashiro. He told Simonyi that he was involved in Windows programming more than 20 years ago, and was glad to meet its creator.

Hashiro said he asked Simony to put out a call for other stations, and Ray Nawrocki, NH6RZ, responded and spoke with Simonyi for a few minutes. Hashiro deemed the occasion "a fabulous and eventful evening."

Simonyi reportedly also contacted Scott Avery, WA6LIE, in California during one of the April 10 ISS passes.

Simonyi to Do Ham Radio Maintenance

Frequencies in Use for ARISS General QSOs

Voice and packet downlink: 145.80 MHz (worldwide)

Voice uplink: 144.49 MHz for Regions 2 and 3 (The Americas, and the Pacific)

Voice uplink: 145.20 for Region 1 (Europe, Central Asia and Africa)

All frequencies are subject to Doppler shifting.

A Hungarian-American flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency, Simonyi paid a reported $25 million for his space adventure. During his stay aboard the ISS, he'll speak with four schools via Amateur Radio, including Puskás Tivadar Távközlési Technikum (HA5KHC) in his native Hungary and three schools in the US, under the auspices of the ARISS program.

In addition, he'll do some maintenance on some of the ham radio gear on the ISS as well as some testing to isolate an antenna problem, and he'll reprogram the Phase 2 NA1SS transceiver to correct a configuration problem.

Simonyi also will conduct some research before returning home April 20 with the Expedition 14 crew of Michael Lopez-Alegria, KE5GTK, and Mikhail Tyurin, RZ3FT, who have been in space since last September. Williams is scheduled to return home this summer on the shuttle Endeavour.

Crew Handover Under Way

NASA reports that the Expedition 14 and 15 crews have begun handover activities and are working together to complete standard tasks. The Expedition 14 crew will continue its maintenance tasks and exercise activities.

Since the first station element -- the Zarya cargo module -- was launched, the ISS has orbited Earth 48,000 times, NASA notes. That's 1.26 billion miles or the equivalent of traveling to Mars and back 20 times.


   



Page last modified: 04:49 AM, 12 Apr 2007 ET
Page author: awextra@arrl.org
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