|MAREX SSTV Delivery to
by Miles Mann
copy write 1998
Saturday June 20, 1998
My Visa arrived at 11 am, and the taxi for Logan Airport
in Boston Mass arrived at 1 PM, and the plane was
scheduled for 4:00 p.m. departure.
I was getting a little worried. I kept checking the
FED-X web page every half hour to track the progress of
my Visa from New York, to Logan, to Lexington and finally
to my home.
My contact in Moscow, Sergej Samburov knew I may miss my
flight because of the visa being delayed. I had
planed to call him as soon as the Visa arrived.
Sergej does not speak much English, but we were able to
understand each other and he is planning on meeting me at
the Moscow Airport on Sunday morning at 11:30 am Moscow
The connecting flight is over 12 hours plus an 8 hour
time change. I left on Saturday afternoon and
arrive Moscow Sunday afternoon.
I got to Logan with plenty of time to spare. The
extra time came in handy to allow me time to register my
cameras with the customs office. It is easier to
get electronics back in into the USA if they are
registered. When I checked into the Delta terminal they
suggested I change from the 4:00 PM flight and take the
3:00 PM flight because it is more reliable than the
prop-shuttle flight at 4:00 PM.
There was a good chance that my 4:00 PM flight would be
late, and I would miss my 6:00 PM connection in NY to
Moscow. The 3:00 flight departed at 3:37, so much
for on time departures. The couple sitting next to were
not use to flying. The girl was a little nervous.
As I looked out the window we popped out of the clouds
and I could see the airport. Then the engines
revved to full power and the flaps came up from 40
degrees to 30 degrees.
During a landing sequence you never retract your flaps
unless something is wrong. Then I realized we were
too high and too fast for the runway and the pilot had
initiated a Go-Around. The pilot came on the intercom and
explained that the air traffic controllers had improperly
spaced his plane, and he elected to Go-around.
When we finally touch down, the girl next to me who was
still shaken from the Go-around, Jumped. I arrived at NY
at 5:00 PM, with just enough time to grab a fast-food
pizza, but not enough time to wait in the long line to
buy a magazine to read. Looks like ill finally get some
time to read the Russian language books I brought last
The flight from NY to Moscow is a 10 hour long non-stop
flight, which was completely sold out. And most of
the people were Russians going home. The plane had
a problem with a stuck alarm light. The bad light
and weather caused us to sit on the runway for almost two
hours. We did not take off until almost 8pm, which
means ill be two hours late into Moscow.
Our flight path took us almost directly over my home town
of Chelmsford Mass.
I called my daughter Jennifer from the Air-phone at 8:30
P.M. to wish here a good nights sleep, this was the last
time I talked to her until I got home. Too bad
there was cloud cover over Chelmsford, otherwise she
could have looked out the window and seen me flying over
Sunday June 21, 1998
Arrived late into Moscow. Did not sleep much in my
isle seat. Flight and food good.
When we arrived at the airport it was 1 PM, I should have
arrived at 11:30 am.
Now that we were on the ground, we could not leave the
plane because there was no electricity at the
No electricity, no computers, no Passport entry. So
we sat in a nice air conditioned plane for 30 minutes
till the power came on. The night before a tornado
hit Moscow center and took down many trees and power
wires (9 killed, 100 injured).
Going though customs was easy, I just walked up to a
counter to get my passport and visa checked.
Then went to get my bag, and walked out the green
door. Mr. Samburov, he had been waiting in a dark
airport for over two hours. Sergej had a driver
waiting to take us to his home 40 minutes away.
I stayed at the Samburov home and was treated to
wonderful Russian dishes. The food was great, for dinner
I had borsch soup, kelbassa, ham, potatoes, cheese,
bread, vodka and ice cream. My system adjusted very
well to the local food.
Monday June 22, 1998
Monday, I was not sure what Sergej had in mind.
Sergej took the day off and made many arrangements.
We left the house at 11 am and took a bus to Moscow city
about 40 minutes away. Then took the subway and
went to ArgusSoft to thank the PictureTel dealer for the
assistance in arranging delivery of SSTV hardware to
They people at ArgusSoft were very nice. Next we
went to the Russian Ham Radio Magazine and talked the
Director of the Magazine Boris S. It was a long day,
which included a few demos of the MAREX-MG SSTV System.
Time to sleep, I think, its either 11 PM or 3 PM,
not sure, but I am tired.
Tuesday June 23, 1998
We had to be at Energia at 11 am.
I had a tour of the two Mission control centers, Mir and
Alpha. The Russians call the International Space Station
program , Alpha. I had a good lunch with Paval,
Sergej, Nick in a small restaurant sandwich bar, in the
basement of a government building. I think my lunch
was some type of veal and cheese with French fries
After lunch we went back to Energia and up to Sergej lab
to discuss problems with SAFEX repeater on Mir.
I demonstrated one of the 4 problems, with the SAFEX demo
system in Sergejs lab. We were all surprised that I
was able to duplicate the failure on the test system,
just like problem the Mir crew had complained
about. The SAFEX repeater was built by a German
club and flown on Mir a few years ago.
The repeater has been having some intermittent problems.
Next stop, Inside the Russian Mir Mission Control
center. Last year, Mir Astronaut Mike Foale asked
me for suggestions on how to adjust parameters for the
Official commercial Packet mail system used between Mir
and Mission control.
Mike was having problems receiving packet messages from
Mission Control, while he was staying on Mir. Mike
sent me a complete data dump from his Packet station
(over 100 different settings).
I analyzed the data and called mike and told him that a
few changes needed to be made at the Mission control
packet station and that the parameters on Mir were
OK. On the very next orbit, I head Mike Foale call
Mir mission control over the official Mir channel and
tell them which changes need to be made.
Today when I went to Mission control, I was given access
to the Mir Mission control packet station. I of
course checked the parameters of the system and
discovered they had implemented my changes. I was
told that the system was working more reliably now.
Wednesday June 24
Todays trip was to Star City, approximately 2
hours drive north east of Moscow. We meet Cosmonaut
Alexander Polishchuk, who drove us to Star City.
Alexander remembered me from some of our conversations we
had while he was on Mir in Jan - July 1993 R2MIR.
He asked me if I was still interested in becoming an
astronaut and how far I had progressed. I was
amazed he remembered.
When we arrived at Star City, we installed two of the
three SSTV systems in a lab on the 6th floor of one of
the training building (ham shack). I demonstrated the
systems for many people, too many to count.
Then a young man came in and every one directed him to me
and the systems. They forgot to introduce me, I did
not know who he was for a while. It turns out, he
is the backup cosmonauts for the next Mir crew, Alexander
When Alexander Kaleri was on Mir during his last mission,
we never talked, but I did talk to his commander
Alexander Viktorenko on many occasions. The SSTV
demos went well and I was begining to adjust to the new
Thursday June 25
Got up early to got to Star city. This
time we had to take the train to Star city. Spent
most of the morning playing with the SSTV, and making
notes in Russian.
Sergej found a problem with the power cable labeling the
Plus/Minus labels for power cable were wrong.
After lunch Vladimir Zagainov took us on a tour of the
training center. I got to climb inside the actual
training model of Mir and the Soyouze docking
practice ships. We were not able to get access to
the underwater training tank or the centrifuge because it
was getting late and most people had gone home for the
After we were done for the day, Mir cosmonaut Aleksandr
Lazutkin (Mir Feb - Aug 1997), drove us back to
Sergejs apartment. During Lazutkin mission, I
frequently talked to his commander Vasilly Tsibliyev.
Friday June 26, 1998
Woke up at 6am, I thought it was 10 am, I was
looking at the wrong time zone on my watch. Then I spent
the next two hours rushing around trying to get ready.
Eventually I finally figured it out around 8am. Jet lag
and Vodka are a bad combination.
Cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev, came to pick us up at 12:30 and
drive us to Star City. Sergei Avdeyev and I talked about
some of the school schedules I ran during his 1995
mission on Mir.
Sergei Avdeyev is one of the three crew members scheduled
for the August Mir Soyuz TM-28 mission. Near as I can
remember, this is the third Cosmonaut driver I have had
At Star City, training began at 2:00 PM and ran until
Cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev and cosmonaut trainee Gennadiy
Padalko were both present. The Mir Soyuz TM-28 crew will
consist of Sergei Avdeyev, Gennadiy Padalko and Yuri
Baturin. I never met Yuri Baturin. Cosmonaut Aleksander
Kaleri is one of the Back-up crew members for the TM-28
Training went well, with all of the typical problems,
plus language difficulties. Everyone spoke a little
English, I do not speak any Russian.
The three SSTV systems are controlled by IR key pads and
an automatic computer timer. One of the problems, was
that when you used the IR to control box 1, box 2 and 3
would change settings. It got a little confusing until I
put tape over the IR readers on the other two SSTV
systems. Sergej and Gennadiy both asked intelligent
questions and understood all of the connections and how
to connected VCRs and camcorders etc.
Training went well and both crew members said they look
forward to using the system.
I was later informed that one of the cargo rockets was
canceled. In an effort to save money, the August cargo
rocket was moved to October and the November cargo rocket
was canceled. There is always the possibility the project
could get bumped to a different rocket or canceled. The
SSTV project is currently tentatively scheduled for the
October Progress Cargo rocket.
After all the VIPs, left we started to clean up. Then
came the Vodka party. Someone brought in bread, spam and
vodka. I knew, I would not be going home for a while.
Fortunately I have developed a little bit of a tolerance
for Vodka and I did not do or say anything embarrassing.
Then came the Gifts. Vladimir Zagainov gave me a bottle
of a Russian made drink (not sure what it is). This
bottle was a gift to Vladimir Zagainov from Mir cosmonaut
Vladimir Titov, for all of his help on Mir projects.
Vladimir Zagainov now gave me the bottle for all of the
work I have done on the Mir projects.
I wonder who I give it to next?
On the way home, all of the Cosmonauts were busy, so my
driver today was (I am sorry, I lost his name). He was
the air plane transport pilot for the Buran project. The
Buran, is the Russian version of the Space Shuttle.
The transport plane carries the Buran on its back, from
landing site to launch pad, etc. The transport plane was
also used for glider testing and released the Buran on a
few glider missions.
Saturday June 27, 1998
Sergej and his family gave me more gifts to take home to
people in the USA.
The suit case is getting hard to close. Sergej hired a
mini bus to take me to the airport an hour away. There is
lots of road construction, but no real traffic problems
in the direction of the airport.
On the ride in, Sergej and I discussed Amateur Radio
projects for the International Space Station. Sergej has
offered me the privilege of building more projects, this
time for ISS.
The Russian Space Station modules contain all of the
Antenna ports, Equipment space and power for all of the
equipment on ISS. The first three ISS modules are all
Russian built. The first Russian module launched in 1999
Base-Block, will have four antenna ports for amateur
The American module with antenna ports is called the Hab
module, and will not be launched until 2006. So, if
anyone wants access to an antenna port, they have to ask