NASA on the Air

In a surprising and touching turnout, tens of thousands of people around the world turned on their ham (or amateur) radios to participate in several “NASA on the Air” events held over the past year. “This was a beautiful thing,” said Kevin Zari, head of the amateur radio club at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Zari especially loved the event photos tweeted by people from different countries.

Radio clubs from 10 NASA centers and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, all supported the yearlong event. Ham radio operators tuned in from all 50 U.S. states and 56 countries across six continents to chat with NASA personnel. “There were times in our log where we had 20 contacts a minute – it was that quick. And there were other more relaxed times, where we were able to just sit and talk,” said Zari. “I don’t know how many times people said, ‘We thought NASA was gone. We thought NASA was dead.’ So we educated people around the world.”

The NASA on the Air event wrapped up with three special opportunities for people to use their radios to download images from the International Space Station. This was done in coordination with Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), an international consortium of amateur radio organizations and space agencies. ARISS encourages young people to explore science, technology, engineering and math through the use of ham radios, and their program works to connect students worldwide with astronauts onboard the space station.

For the final three events, cosmonauts on the station transmitted several NASA on the Air images from space. Participants could compete to collect images and upload them to a website for credit. Over 34,600 uploads were received from 18,619 participants.

The reaction to NASA on the Air was so positive, NASA Radio Clubs plans to activate NASA on the Air for special anniversaries in 2019 and beyond (e.g. 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11). Follow @NASARadioClubs on Twitter or join the NASA on the Air (NOTA) group on Facebook for notifications of future activities.

Wreath Honors Apollo Astronaut Edgar Mitchell

Edgar Mitchell Honored
In the Apollo Saturn V Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a ceremony took place to honor the memory of NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who died Feb. 4, 2016. A memorial wreath was placed at the Apollo 14 command module by, Mitchell’s son, Paul Mitchell, and daughter, Kimberly Mitchell. One of 12 humans to walk on the moon, Mitchell was Apollo 14’s lunar module pilot who landed in the moon’s Fra Mauro highlands on Feb. 5, 1971 with mission commander Alan Shepard while command module pilot Stuart Roosa remained in lunar orbit.
Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

In memory of NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, a memorial wreath was placed in the Apollo Saturn V Center at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The brief ceremony took place on the morning of Feb. 12, 2016. The wreath was placed in the Treasures of Apollo exhibit where the Apollo 14 command module, flown by Mitchell, Alan Shepard and Stuart Roosa, is on display.

One of 12 humans to walk on the moon, Mitchell died Feb. 4, 2016, in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 85. It was the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing.
As Apollo 14’s lunar module pilot, Mitchell and mission commander Shepard touched down in the moon’s Fra Mauro highlands aboard the lunar module Antares on Feb. 5, 1971.

Mitchell was born Sept. 17, 1930, in Hereford, Texas, but considered Artesia, New Mexico, his hometown. After being commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy, Mitchell went on to accumulate 5,000 hours flight time, including 2,000 hours in jet aircraft. NASA selected Mitchell as an astronaut in 1966.
Mitchell was drawn to spaceflight by President John F. Kennedy’s call to send astronauts to the moon.

“That’s what I wanted, because it was the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see and what you could learn,” Mitchell said after Kennedy announced the moon program. “I’ve been devoted to that, to exploration, education and discovery since my earliest years, and that’s what kept me going,”

As Apollo 14 command module pilot Stuart Roosa orbited the moon, Mitchell and Shepard collected 94 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples that later were distributed for analysis across 187 scientific teams in the United States and 14 other countries.
Mitchell retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy in 1972.
In an interview for NASA’s oral history program in 1997, Mitchell commented on what spaceflight meant to him.

“To me, that was the culmination of my being,” he said, “and what can I learn from this? What is it we are learning? That’s important, because I think what we’re trying to do is discover ourselves and our place in the cosmos and we don’t know. We’re still looking for that.”

Mitchell lived in Palm Beach County, Florida, since 1975. He is survived by four daughters, Karlyn Mitchell, Elizabeth Kendall, Kimberly Mitchell and Mary Beth Johnson, a son, Paul Mitchell, and nine grandchildren. His son Adam Mitchell died in 2010.