ARISS News Release
Dave Jordan, AA4KN
April 16, 2019
It is with great sadness that the ARISS team recognizes the passing of our
great friend and colleague Astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL (SK). Owen
Garriott died at his home in Huntsville , Alabama on April 15, 2019.
A passionate amateur radio operator and ionospheric physics researcher, Owen
inspired the amateur radio community to reach for the stars. His
multi-decade vision to bring amateur radio with him as part of his journey
in space was realized in 1983 on the STS-9 Space Shuttle Columbia mission,
where hams the world over for the first time heard a fellow ham call CQ from
space. As the first to operate ham radio in space, Owen blazed a trail that
has enabled countless people from around the world to experience what it is
like to journey into space and explore our universe. As a result, he
inspired the international amateur radio community to extend his modest ham
station on STS-9 into an international human spaceflight ham radio program
that has spanned the Space Shuttle, Mir Space Station, and International
A member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, Owen Garriott was a pioneer and
innovator in all his endeavors including amateur radio. Selected as a NASA
scientist-astronaut in 1965, Garriott was the science-pilot for Skylab 3,
the second crewed Skylab mission. Skylab was the first U.S. space station,
housing 3 different crew expeditions from May 1973-February 1974. Owen
spent approximately 60 days on Skylab, doing solar physics research, human
physiological research and conducting 3 spacewalks to repair Skylab and
extend its research capabilities.
Owens next flight into space, as part of an international crew on the
STS-9 Space Shuttle Columbia mission, cemented amateur radios future as
part of the human spaceflight experience. STS-9 was launched from the
Kennedy Space Center, Florida on November 28, 1983. Onboard Columbia was an
internationally developed space laboratory, Spacelab-1, which pioneered
international spaceflight research with over 70 separate experiments—a
precursor to the research currently being accomplished on the International
Space Station (ISS). Onboard also was a Motorola 2-meter handheld radio
with a window mounted antenna to facilitate ham radio contacts between W5LFL
and hams on the ground. On December 1, the third day of his mission, Owen
donned his headset and made history by communicating with Lance Collister,
WA1JXN, in Frenchtown , Montana . In W5LFLs own words, here is an excerpt of
his first contact: W5LFL in Columbia is calling CQ and standing by. Go
ahead. Hello WA1JXN, WA1 Juliet X‐ray November, this is W5LFL. I picked up
your signals fairly weakly. I think our attitude is not really the best as
yet, but you’re our first contact from orbit. WA1 Juliet X‐ray November,
how do you read? Over.
Owens ham contacts on STS-9 were trailblazing for many reasons. They
represented the first ham radio contact from a human in space to someone on
Earth. They allowed the general public to directly listen and communicate
with an on-orbit crew where, prior to this, only NASA mission control
personnel or heads of State (U.S. Presidents, etc.) could talk to astronauts
from space. And the mission also demonstrated that a group of volunteers
could successfully build a ham radio station for a human spaceflight vehicle
and get it formally approved by a space agency.
Owen spent decades attempting to carry out ham radio on one of his missions,
employing gentle assertiveness and steadfast patience to realize his dream.
In 1965, when NASA was considering Owen for a planned lunar flight on Apollo
18, 19 or 20, Project MOONRAY was proposed by the Project OSCAR team.
Project MOONRAY would support amateur radio operations from the surface of
the moon. This initiative was scuttled when Apollo lunar expeditions ended
at Apollo-17. Prior to his flight on Skylab, AMSAT submitted a proposal to
NASA called SKYLARC (Skylab Amateur Radio Communications). Unfortunately,
this proposal was turned down. But, as they say, the 3rd time was a charm
on STS-9 and ham radio is now a human spaceflight reality. Also, it should
be noted that an ARISS/AMSAT international team is pursuing Owens plans to
fly ham radio to the moon via several lunar proposal initiatives, including
the Lunar Gateway.
Owen inspired legions of amateur radio operators, world-wide, to support
human spaceflight amateur radio endeavors and for countless individuals to
become ham radio operators. This includes his son, Richard, W5KWQ, who
together with Owen became the first multi-generational American ham radio
operators to communicate from space.
On behalf of the ARISS International Team, we would like to extend our
sincere condolences to the Garriott family, including Owens son Richard,
W5KWQ and Owens wife Eve. As Owen has inspired the amateur radio
community to reach for the stars may we wish Owen Garriott Godspeed and a
wonderful journey amongst the stars.
73, Frank Bauer, KA3HDO
ARISS International Chair
AMSAT V.P. for Human Spaceflight Programs
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to all interested persons worldwide without requiring membership. Opinions expressed
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Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the International Space Station (ISS). In the United States , sponsors are the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Center for the Advancement of Science in space (CASIS) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students in classrooms or public forms. Before and during these radio contacts, students, educators, parents, and communities learn about space, space technologies, and amateur radio. For more information, see www.ariss.org. Also join us on Facebook: Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Follow us on Twitter: ARISS_status
Dave Jordan, AA4KN
ARISS PR email@example.com