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Bounce your signal off Mir (passive satellite)

Mir Amateur Radio Status: January 20, 2000

By Miles Mann WF1F, 
MAREX-NA (Manned Amateur Radio Experiment, North American Division) 

What do we do, while Mir is temporarily off the air?

We'll, have you tried to bounce your signal off of Mir?
It called Earth-Mir-Earth?

Many of you may have heard of Moon bounce, also called Earth-Moon-Earth.
Did you know you could do the same thing with the Russian Space Station
In the 1960's NASA launched a satellite project Echo. 
 Is was just a big inflatable balloon 100 feet in diamiter
floating in a low orbit, Mir is bigger.  Echo was the first American
satellite ever launched and it
was successful.  The word Passive means, it had no electronics to relay
radio signals.
The radio signals just bounced off the reflective material.  Terrestrial
radio stations would aim
their antennas at the Satellite Echo and literally bound their signals
off Echo to communication.

The same theory can be used with the Russians space Station Mir.

In 1994 I actually heard some echoes of a distant amateur radio station
actually bouncing off
the Space Station Mir.  It happened during a pre-arranged Mir radio
schedule with Cosmonaut 
Aleksander Serebrov.  I would routinely have a schedule with the Mir
crew to make 
arrangements for school schedules.  A fellow ham Joe W2KQ was also
assisting with 
making the school arrangements.  I live in the Boston Mass, Joe lives in
New Jersey, 
under normal conditions I can not hear Joe on the 2-meter band.   The
only time we can 
hear each other is during a band opening and if we have our antennas
pointed at each other.  
At the time of the contact we were both running similar stations, each
equipped with a 12dBd 
gain antennas and 150 watts of raw power (total ERP 2400 watts).  After
I was done talking to 
Cosmonaut Aleksander, I signed clear
knowing that Joe would pick up the conversation.  Aleksander then began
talking to Joe W2KQ 
in New Jersey. After listening to Mir for a few more seconds I began to
hear Joe's unmistakable 
voice echoing off the Russian Space Station Mir.  At first I assume we
had a band opening on 
2-meters.  Then I looked at my computer to see where my antenna was
pointing.  The computer 
controlled antennas was aiming South East, out to sea at the Mir Space
Station.  New Jersey 
was on my side of my beam, not off the front or back of the beam.  Then
I looked closer at 
the computer to see where Joe was pointing his beam.  Sure enough, Joe's
beam would be 
pointing North East out to sea, also towards the Mir Space Station.
There are a few possible other explanations, however since both of our
antennas were 
pointing out to sea and elevated up towards the Space Station Mir, it
seems a pretty 
good theory we were bouncing off Mir.  

What do you need to Mir Bounce.
A big station.
Antenna 	12 dBd or more
Power Raw	150 +
Antenna preamp
Mode CW or SSB
So if you have a Big gun, give Earth Mir Earth a try.


MAREX-NA web page at:

Copyright 2000 Miles Mann, All Rights Reserved.  This document may be
freely distributed 
via the following means - Email (including listservers), Usenet, and
It may not be reproduced for profit including, but not limited to, CD
ROMs, books, and/or o
ther commercial outlets without prior written consent from the author.
Images received from the MAREX-NA SSTV system on the Russian Space
Station Mir are 
considered public domain and may be freely distributed, without prior

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