Mir Amateur Radio Status March 23, 2001

RØMIR (R Zero MIR) SK !!

MIR 1986 - 2001

RØMIR 1988 - 2001

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

Who will push the Button?

I spoke with the engineers at Russians Mission control today about the end of Mir. Tomorrow morning around 8am Moscow time (0600 UTC) many of the engineers and cosmonauts who were responsible for Mir will gather in Mission control to bid farewell to a fine space station. Cosmonaut Vladimir Solovyov, who was a flight engineer on the very first Mir mission (March 13, 1986) will also be present. Solovyov, who helped bring Mir alive in 1986, will be responsible for bringing the Mir project to an end. At approximately 0600 UTC Vladimir Solovyov will issue the command to fire the Mir engines for one last time. Then approximately 30-45 minutes later, Mir will splash down Pacific Ocean. 

The chief of the Amateur Radio Cosmonaut Department, Sergej Samburov said, "I have been working on Mir for 20 years, most of my life. It's like loosing a close relative." Samburov is responsible for approving all of the amateur radio experiments on Mir and for several other Russian launched Amateur Radio projects.


Mir's Retirement date adjusted to March 23, approximately 0620 UTC. The Russian Space Station Mir will be retired on March 23 around 0620 UTC. The controllers in Moscow have been slowly lowering the orbit of Mir from 250 miles (400 kilometers) down to approximately 130 miles (208 kilometers) above the earth's surface. When the Space station reached 150 miles ( 250 Kilometers), it was at the point of no return. The two Progress rocket boosters will not be able to lift Mir back into orbit. When Mir reached the 133-mile (220-Kilometer) point early this week, the controllers were then able to pick the final orbit and time. Mir is currently at about 127 miles (240 kilometers) in altitude. The controllers at Russian Mission control are now preparing for the final three engine firings which will send the 140 ton Space station into a controlled dive. The first engine burn will take place around 0030 UTC and the second on the next orbit around 0200 UTC, with the final burn during the 0500 UTC orbit over Asia. The main parts of the Mir Station will dive into a specific 50 x 100 miles spot in the Pacific Ocean. Some of the smaller lighter parts, such as the solar panels will fragment into smaller pebble size chunks and land over a wider area.

People living in Japan and New Zealand may be able to see the station as it makes is last fiery decent. Amateur Radio stations living along the Pacific Rim, will be able to bounce radio signals off the ion trail of the Mir station and may be able to have a few minutes of "meteor bounce" propagation. In that trail of ions will not only be tons of expensive test equipment but it will also include several amateur radio projects, including :

And the first joint project between MIREX/MAREX/SAREX/ARRL/AMSAT was the DCI RF Filter project.

When Mir goes, I will be sad. She served us well during her historic 15 year Mission. The Mir Station reminds me a little of the fictional TV series, Star Trek. Mir boldly went where no one has gone before and paved the way for her little child, Space Station Alpha. Do you remember Start Trek 3, In search of Spock? At the end of the Movie, we all shed a tear, when the Enterprise NCC-1701 burnt up in the atmosphere of the Genesis planet. So too will Mir bun up as she head for her splash down in the pacific.

Long Time Visitor

As Mir made her fiery end, many people watched the sky, including her longest visitor, Sergei Avdeyev. Sergej lived on Mir for almost 2 years and currently holds the word record to total time in Space. Sergej will be in the South Pacific sky watching. Serge was also a very active Amateur Radio operator on Mir and sent us many great SSTV images.

ISS Crew Bids Farwell

There will be a ceremony on ISS honoring Mir when she is retired. The at 0634 the ISS will be passing over the same area of the south pacific, just as Mir will be heading for the ocean. The ISS crew may even be able to see the glow of the Mir station. The people on the ground looking for Mir should also look up to the south and be happy, because the shining dot in the sky heading east is the child of Mir. Mir's Daughter Alpha is flying high and proud, continuing in her mother's footsteps.

Mir Orbital Data


1 16609U 86017A 01081.15974550 .00757533 11879-4 34830-3 0 7708
2 16609 51.6342 255.3849 0004139 203.8945 156.1875 16.21156079863131

"Daughter of Mir"


1 25544U 98067A 01081.21693648 .00031287 00000-0 37706-3 0 7871
2 25544 51.5698 167.1633 0008461 199.3076 267.2921 15.60464118133492

Taco Bell

A fast food company, Taco Bell is having a Hit me contest with Mir. If parts of Mir hit a 40 x 40-foot target floating in the ocean, Taco Bell will pass out free tacos. I wonder if they will give Marex any extra Tacos, if the parts turn out to be from any of our Amateur Radio projects on Mir?

Post Card from Space

Amateur Radio operators frequently exchange postcards between radio stations to confirm the 2-way radio contact. These post cards are called QSL cards. I received a very special QSL card, which came directly from the Russian Space Station Mir.

In 1999, on of my QSL cards flew into space on a Progress cargo rocket. The three Mir crew members then signed the WF1F QSL card and placed ink post-mark stamps on the back of the card, indicating the card was actually on the Russian Space Station Mir. One of the stamps has the date August 28, 1999, which is the date the Mir crew undocked and left the Space Station and came home to Earth. The card spent over a month in space (over 39 days) and traveled around the world 585 times (over 21 million miles in space).

The QSL card was signed by :

I would like to thank all of the Mir crew, Sergej Avdeyev, Viktro Afanasyev and Jean-Pierre and the engineers at Energia, including Sergej Samburov for making it possible for me to receive this once in a life time gift. I am very pleased and proud to have been a part of the successful and valuable Russian Space Amateur Radio program.

G. Miles Mann WF1F

From Farrell Winder W8ZCF

The Mir Space Station with its re-entry plunge to Earth has taken with it several historical Amateur Radio Systems. Among these is the SSTV package developed specifically for Mir by the MAREX-NA group.  Using the SSTV setup the Mir crews sent thousands of exciting "live" pictures to Earth. Dr. Don Miller, W9NTP received one of the 1st images. Don was also one of the developers of the Mir System. This picture was received on December 12, 1998 :

Comdr. Gennady Padalka with the SSTV System

Gerald Klatzko received one of the last known pictures from Mir, ZS6BTD on April 23, 2000 :

Alex Kaleri, U8MIR is shown at his workstation

 From Mir's pictures much was learned about the world renowned Mir Space Station which spent more that 15 years in outer space. The Mir pictures also included many spectacular scenes of Earth. Realizing that there cannot be any more pictures from Mir is very saddening, but we all can look forward to new exciting pictures from the International Space Station ( ISS) via SpaceCam1 which is described here

New MAREX Web pages

Check out our future ISS Projects and a large list of Mir related links :  http://www.marexmg.org

Copyright 2001 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.

Until we meet again,


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Last updated 22 March 2001
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