Mir Amateur Radio Status: January 20, 2000

By Miles Mann WF1F,

MAREX-MG (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 Mir.

In the 1960's NASA launched a satellite project Echo.


Is was just a big inflatable balloon 100 feet in diameter

floating in a low orbit, Mir is bigger. Echo was the first American passive 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.

Copyright 2000 Miles Mann, All Rights Reserved. This document may be freely distributed via the following means - Email (including listservers), Usenet, and World-Wide-Web. It may not be reproduced for profit including, but not limited to, CD ROMs, books, and/or other commercial outlets without prior written consent from the author.

Images received from the MAREX-MG SSTV system on the Russian Space Station Mir are considered public domain and may be freely distributed, without prior permission.