US Ham-Astronaut, Russian Cosmonaut Safe in Wake of Soyuz Launch Failure

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft crew launch to the International Space Station (ISS) suffered an emergency booster failure shortly after lift-off from Kazakhstan on October 11, but the crew is safe. On board the Soyuz MS-10 were US Astronaut Nick Hague, KG5TMV, and Russian Cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was in attendance at the launch in order to discuss with Russian space agency Roscosmos a mysterious hole that had apparently been drilled through the side of the last Soyuz vehicle. That spacecraft had successfully carried cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, and astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor, KG5TMT, and Alexander Gerst, KF5ONO, to the ISS last spring. In a statement, Bridenstine promised “a thorough investigation” into the cause of the October 11 aborted launch.

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Scouting’s Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) Looking Forward to Successful 2018 Event

Some 450 sites in the US are among nearly 3,000 locations around the world that will host Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) or Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI) stations over the October 19 – 21 weekend.

“It looks [like it will] exceed last year’s registration number by next weekend,” JOTA Coordinator Jim Wilson, K5ND, said.

One site that will be activated for JOTA is the Voice of America (VOA) Museum in West Chester, Ohio, which hosts the West Chester Amateur Radio Association’s club station WC8VOA. WCARA member Jocelyn Brault, KD8VRX, grew up in Canada, where, as a 12-year-old, he took part in a JOTA event, making a friend in France and becoming pen pals. Years later, he became a Scout leader and a radio amateur. The station in the VOA station has been hosting JOTA for the past 5 years and allows anyone in Scouting to participate from the museum.

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FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Overhauls Marking Requirements for Short Rural Towers

Thanks to ARRL efforts on Capitol Hill, language in the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, just signed by President Donald Trump, resolves the issue of problematic or preclusive rules affecting some rural Amateur Radio towers. The previous FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 had instructed the FAA to enact tower-marking requirements, similar to those in some state statutes, aimed at improving aircraft safety in the vicinity of meteorological evaluation towers (METs). These towers are typically between 50 and 200 feet and set up in rural areas, often on short notice.

In the wake of fatal crop-dusting aircraft collisions with METs, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had recommended that states institute laws, sometimes called “crop duster” statutes, requiring marking and registration of METs. While some state crop-duster laws exempted ham radio towers, federal regulations dating to the 1996 FAA Reauthorization Act did not, and ARRL had expressed its concerns since.

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“Last Man Standing” Debuts on Fox With High Ratings

“Last Man Standing,” the TV comedy that includes amateur radio as a backdrop and occasional story line and was canceled by ABC last year despite healthy ratings, returned to the air on the Fox network in September with a huge ratings boost in comparison with its previous season premiere on ABC.

According to producer John Amodeo, AA6JA, the current (season 7) premiere on Fox had a 56% higher rating than its season 6 premiere last year and its highest-ever rating for a Friday night broadcast. Amodeo also says the TCFTV ratings report indicated that the September 28 telecast was Fox’s most-watched Friday entertainment show in nearly 18 years and the network’s most-watched comedy in nearly seven years. Fox picked up the show (which it has always produced) following viewer outcry over ABC’s decision not to renew it.

Northern Florida ARES Teams Handle Hurricane Duty

Over the past week, Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) teams in the ARRL Northern Florida Section went on alert and some activated to support emergency communication before and during Hurricane Michael.

Miller Norton, W4EMN, the Communications Watch Officer at the Duval County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Jacksonville, Florida, was monitoring SARnet — a UHF-linked repeater network in Florida — when he heard an urgent call for help that needed to be sent to the State EOC in Tallahassee. All other forms of communication were out, but Norton was able to relay the message to via Amateur Radio. He also passed along messages and requests from the Jackson County EOC to the American Red Cross. Norton said officials in Tallahassee and Jackson County were both “incredibly grateful” for the way the SARnet system functioned during the weather emergency.

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ARRL Headquarters on Alert for Hurricane Michael

The ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team is in monitoring status as Hurricane Michael heads for landfall this week on the Gulf Coast.

As of 1200 UTC, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Hurricane Michael was gaining strength while moving to the north-northwest at 12 MPH over the southeaster Gulf of Mexico. “Life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall is expected along the northeastern Gulf Coast,” the NHC advised. The storm was reported to be some 395 miles south of Panama City, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 100 MPH, making it a Category 2 storm.

On its current forecast track, Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico through tonight, moving inland over the Florida Panhandle or Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then northeastward across the US southeast on Wednesday night and Thursday, the NHC said.

As we get closer to Michael making landfall, updates from ARRL to the Sections in the storm’s path will continue,” ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said in a message to Field Organization leaders in the Northern Florida and Alabama Sections.

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Hurricane Watch Net Announces Plans as Hurricane Michael Approaches Gulf Coast

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) has announced tentative plans to activate on October 9 at 2100 UTC on both 14.325 and 7.268 MHz as now-Hurricane Michael is forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane later today. It is expected to make landfall somewhere on the Florida Panhandle on the evening of October 10 as a strong Category 2 or possibly a major Category 3 hurricane.

“However, don’t focus on the primary dotted line of the forecast track, as Mother Nature has a way of changing her mind as to where a storm can go,” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, cautioned.

Now boasting sustained winds of 75 MPH, the storm is moving to the north at 7 MPH. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said storm surge and hurricane watches are now in effect for portions of the northeastern Gulf Coast area. Some areas along the Florida Gulf Coast are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storm’s exact track or intensity.

Graves said that given the current forecast track and forward speed, the HWN has tentative plans to activate Tuesday afternoon at 2100 UTC, remaining on 20 meters for as long as propagation allows and suspending operations on 7.268 MHz at 0300 UTC on Wednesday, October 10. Operations will resume at 1230 UTC on both 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz and will remain in operation until further notice.

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WWV/WWVH Ending Marine Storm Warning Broadcasts

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has announced that marine storm warning announcements from the National Weather Service – broadcast on WWV and WWVH for the past 47 years, will be terminated as of the end of October. No reason was given for the move. However, NIST has proposed shutting down WWV, WWVB and WWVH as part of its planned budget reductions for federal fiscal year 2019. It is unclear at this point whether Congress has taken final action on the NIST budget request.

We recommend that readers concerned about maintaining funding for WWV and its sister stations contact their Congressional representatives as soon as possible

Online Fundraising Campaign Backs ISS Radio Upgrades

ARISS and AMSAT are supporting a FundRazr campaign to raise $150,000 for critical ham radio infrastructure upgrades on the International Space Station (ISS).

“ARISS is in critical need of infrastructure upgrades to ensure that programs such as talking to astronauts in space using Amateur Radio can continue,” ARISS International President Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said. ARISS seeks several upgrades, including new Amateur Radio communication and experiment capabilities, such as an enhanced voice repeater, updated digital Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS), and slow-scan television (SSTV) with image uplinks and downlinks in both US and Russian segments; next-generation radio systems that will support easier mode and capability transitions, and a multi-voltage power supply to support present and future radio capabilities.

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Remembering the Launch of Sputnik 1 — Earth’s First Artificial Satellite

October 4 marks the 61st anniversary of the launch by the Soviet Union of Sputnik 1, Earth’s first artificial satellite. The Soviets heralded the launch as a national triumph, and the space race between the USSR and the US began.

Sputnik 1 was a 58-centimeter diameter, polished aluminum sphere sprouting four antennas and transmitting a 1 W signal on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz, putting it within the range of nearly any radio amateur. Orbiting the planet about once every 96 minutes, Sputnik 1 could be seen from Earth. Following the launch, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology’s HF radio station WWV even halted its nighttime 20 MHz transmissions to avoid interfering with the satellite’s signal.

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