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Thank you Mir

Two and a half years ago when I was running a direct school contact with
Andy thomas on Mir, my 9 year old son Sean who was to run the Az/El
antenna controls told me he wanted to get his ham license in time for the
contact. He studied each night for a month and a half
and got his Tech ticket, and ran his antenna control position as KC2DIJ.

Over the next two years he never got to talk directly with an astronaut but
Sean has always been the technician behind the scenes on past Mir contacts
and SSTV. On Field day this year we set up the sat station and he suggested
testing it on Mir. Much to our surprise I got a quick voice contact with JP
as he went over the horizon. That night he went home to bed planning to come
back in the morning. I had a voice contact with the Cosmonauts at 2:00am in
the morning and got everyone nearby a contact also. When Sean came back to
camp in the morning and heard all about what happened that night I think he
realized he had blown his chance to make this rare radio contact. He looked
so sad. We didn't say any thing to each other but we both knew he missed his
chance. We have been trying each Sunday for the last three weeks for one
last shot before they abandon the Spacestation on Aug 24.
At 11:38 UTC (7:30am EDT) this morning,Sean, KC2DIJ made an extended voice
contact with JP aboard the Mir Spacestation.
Sean Called "India Juliet, India Juliet, Age 11, Age 11." The astronaut
responded with "India Juliet, the young woman this is spacestation Mir"
Sean gave his full call sign and name talked about being in Holmdel NJ ect.
The Cosmonaut said "oh, you are a boy" and laughed he also 
said he had Sean's call sign & repeated it and said he would listen for him
on future orbits. I was enroute to a hamfest and was listening to both sides
of the conversation at a rest stop with a whole bunch of strangers listening
too. Daddy was so proud he had tears in his eyes.

Today was to be the last opportunity...and he did it! Not only that he did
it on his own. He set the orbit tracking computers, enabled (and 
downloaded) 2 Slow Scan Television pictures from Mir, tuned the doppler
frequency compensation, as well as continuously keeping the beam 
antennas pointed in both Azimuth & Elevation as the space station went over
head at 17,000 MPH...and had a nice little chat with an astronaut
300 miles in space at the same time. 

Not bad for 11yrs old.

And Thank You JP and Mir and the people of Russia for taking the time and
money and energy over many years to show the children of this planet
all that they can be.

And as it comes time say goodbye to Mir, I can only hope that those who will
run the ISS amateur station will give as much to our children as Russia did.

It took our school 2 1/2 years to make a contact. It took over two years for
Sean to make his. If Nasa and the ISS ham controllers
can have the foresight to dedicate a permanent SSTV weekday downlink we can
have school children across this planet directly participating
in this wonderful adventure every 93 minutes not every 2 1/2 years. 

Al Emer, N2YAC


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