Early in the beginning of the year I mailed a preliminary SAREX-application including a description of our previous studies. In March we received an educational plan and a formal application form, which was suggesting to a stand-by list to SAREX-flights at the end of the year or early 1994. This was followed by receiving informational and educational supplements to every flight in mail.

After receiving the approval of joining the SAREX-project I invited anyone interested in the subject to a class room. There were several, who were interested in: more than could occupy the class room at one time. This was time to make a choice. I explained the possible situation, where editors, TV-cameras and a possible ON-THE-AIR radio broadcasting are surrounding you. No back-locking of mind is allowed. Also, if astronauts have questions, you must be able to answer in English. After this half a class room was fled with eager voluntieers. The next there was no other choice than lottery: one boy and one girl. Miss Virva Tervonen and Mr. Janne Kemppainen were the lucky ones. They would have perhaps a once-in-lifetime chance to talk to an astronaut in space and make history to be the students from the first Finnish SAREX-school.

Kainuun Sanomat, Kaleva (regional newspapers published in Kajaani and Oulu) and Kainuun Radio (regional programming of the government owned radio net, the Finnish Broadcasting Company) were enthusiatic to follow the project. RATS 1/93 (A publication of Finnish Amateur Radio Tecnical Society, AMSAT-OH) and Radioamatoori (published by the Finnish Amateur Radio League) issues were widely writing of the subject.

I sent material also to Opettaja (Teachers)-magazine and Tekniikan Maailma (The World of Technics)- magazine for inform other teachers and some other people who might be interested. Unfortunately in both magazines they were not interested. The secretary of Teachers-magazine said that "the story is not as usual stories in the magazine." After some conversation she promissed that next January (1994) there might be space for that. The biggest disappointment for me was the attitude of the famous technical magazine. They "had no place for that kind of story". - Most of the stories deals with cars. (On that time I did not have a picture of the car with a space shuttle. Now I have...)

April brought the STS-56 Discovery flight. Flight routines allowed only two night-time operatios during four orbits. A packet QSO was successful at the fifth night. No doubt this flight was the most difficult to be contacted to. Only four OH-stations succeeded.

In May we received material like photographs for an exhibition of the STS-56 flight. They were exhibited at the Communications Summer Camp in Paltamo Iijarvi and at the Kajaani Seminar for the Educational Communications 1993. This seminar is every year organized by the Educational Ministry of Finland and National Educational Government.

October: The STS-58 Columbia flight was not available with its 39 degrees inclination to Finland but to a French SAREX-school. Coincidentially that time I was travelling in Paris and happened to watch a local TV-news briefing of an informational commentary. Daytime no 145.550 MHz traffic was monitored. The reason for this was revealed later on: the QSO was a so-called telebridge contact through land-line to USA, where it was relayed to Australia to beforwarded on 2 meters finally to the shuttle. I should have monitored the local repeater, where the QSO was relayed. Also the sked frequencies are not common up- and downlink frequencies.

How about lingual prospects: during one week I only worked few repeater QSOs and the three F-stations speaking in English had never heard of SAREX.

  • By the way there I worked one qso in French. Unfortunately the contact interrupted by bad batteries of that F-station. After 2 weeks I received a qsl card with a letter in French. (I really don't speak French). My collegeau translated it:" ...next time when you will be again in Hotel Ritz,Paris, we can continue the qso."
    Oh,boy! We were staying in Hotel Lorette. That is about 900 dollars cheaper per night...

    I have been in correspondence by packet radio with Jacky F6EAU and that French SAREX STS-58 school Lycee Gaston Febus and FE1OBV; the SAREX teacher is Jean-Marc Dumont.

    Tuesday, Dec. 7, 1993. Mrs. Tracy Simpson-Bedlack, N1QDO, from the ARRL phoned that OH8AK and the Paltamo High School was selected as an STS-59 SAREX-school. Thus one orbit was dedicated to the Finns. The duration of the contact would be from 4 to 8 minutes. (Maybe on that time my joy was a little dull because I was a little bit confused during the phone call. I was just going to Sauna bath and had no clothes on...)

    OH8AK is a local ham radio club as a branch in the scout society, also supported by the Kajaani Christian Lutherian Churc. I thought that we will get the special second operator licence easier by using a club call. There has never before admitted a third party licence in Finland.

    In December several phone calls and correspondence to SRAL (The Finnish Radio Amateur League) Hannu Lattu OH2BKQ and THK were needed. (THK is Telehallintokeskus, as the FCC in USA) We changed many packet radio messages and infos with Jussi Liukkonen OH5LK (VHF-manager of SRAL) and Jari Jussila OH2BU (the president of SRAL, Finnish Radio Amateur League). This occation needed a special licence. Great hopes were calmed down by difficulties in getting a licence, since there was no abstract like a second-operator in the Finnish radioamateur legistation. So...one night a letter from the heart was born from "A Little House in the Prairie" to be sent to THK. This was followed by an immediate phone call from Ms. Mervi Vesterlin: we do all we can.

    December 23 we received a fax from Mr. Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO. The flight would be forwarded to April 7. The Paltamo SAREX-school contact is scheduled to the flight's second day at the 20th hour and 24 minutes (MET 2/20h24min). The would be contact will be in the morning of April 3 as preliminary, or, when the launch is to be delayed by a week, April 10. Frank Bauer coordinates as North American AMSAT Vice President for Manned Space Programs and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. All details and technical information is available since early 1994 flights from him through phone, fax and Internet.

    In Christmas I saw an american Christmas movie on TV. How about that! There Santa Claus was living in the North Pole. That is not true. I have to write to the Santa...

    We had our Christmas holiday and I had time to make plans. If there will be any surprises there will be enough time during our winter holiday in the beginning of March and Eastern holiday in the beginning of April.

    year 1994

    so then we...