After less than a day in space, civilian space traveler Charles Simonyi,
KE7KDP/HA5SIK, was already making contacts with the earthbound ham radio
community from NA1SS. The billionaire software pioneer and aviator arrived
April 10 at the International Space Station with the Expedition 15 crew of
Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin, RN3FI, and Dr Oleg Kotov. The trio
launched two days earlier in a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan. Ron Hashiro, AH6RH, in Honolulu was among the lucky ones. He
tells ARRL that after putting out a blind call, he spoke not only with
Simonyi but with Expedition 14/15 Flight Engineer Suni Williams, KD5PLB.
“I mentioned to her that I had listened to her earlier contact with the
school in India and it was a thrill to speak with her directly,” Hashiro
recounted. “She said that Hawaii was her favorite place and had some
relatives in Hawaii.” Then, Hashiro says, Williams told him someone else was
interested in talking with him, and Simonyi came on a few minutes later.
“I welcomed Charles to ham radio and asked him if he was the author of the
“Hungarian notation” of Windows programming, which he acknowledged,” said
Hashiro. He told Simonyi that he was involved in Windows programming more
than 20 years ago, and was glad to meet its creator. Hashiro deemed the
occasion “a fabulous and eventful evening.”
Flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency, Simonyi also
has been running through a list of four scheduled Amateur Radio on the
International Space Station (ARISS) school contacts, including one with a
school in his native Hungary.
On April 12, Simonyi responded via Amateur Radio to upward of 30 questions
posed by students at Fairborn High School in Ohio, telling them he’s
enjoying microgravity now that he’s become used to it. Simonyi also talked
about why he wanted to go into space.
“I wanted to make a contribution to civilian space flight and assist in
space station research, and also to have a fantastic experience,” he said.
As to why he flew with Russian cosmonauts and not with NASA, Simonyi said,
“NASA doesn’t fly space tourists yet, so the Russians are the only game in
town.” Simonyi paid a reported $25 million for his space adventure.
While in space, Simonyi will do some maintenance on the ham radio gear
aboard the ISS as well as testing to isolate an antenna problem, and he’ll
reprogram the Phase 2 NA1SS transceiver to correct a configuration problem.
He’ll also conduct some research before returning home April 20 with the
Expedition 14 crew of Michael Lopez-Alegria, KE5GTK, and Mikhail Tyurin,
RZ3FT, who have been in space since last September. Williams is scheduled to
return home this summer on the shuttle Endeavour.
Frequencies in use for ARISS general QSOs: Voice and packet downlink: 145.80
MHz (worldwide); Voice uplink: 144.49 MHz for Regions 2 and 3 (the Americas,
and the Pacific) and 145.20 MHz for Region 1 (Europe, Central Asia and
Africa). All frequencies are subject to Doppler shift.