Pete Norris k1hzu1 at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 16 10:30:57 PDT 2011

Hi all:I received this from Phil, N1EP. I thought there would be a number of you that might like to know.Pete, K1HZU

Hello Folks,

If you have not heard already, local (Franklin/Ellsworth) ham Mark Austin,
KB1GVR, became a silent key on August 8. Graveside services will be this
Thursday, Aug 18, at 11AM at Woodbine cemetery in Ellsworth. 

Mark was very prolific in space communications. In 2002, he told me that he was
listening to his scanner, I think in 1997, and heard Russian voices coming over
the speaker about every hour and 36 minutes. He discovered the voices were from
cosmonauts on board the Mir Space Station. He then started recording their SSTV
broadcasts and then went out and bought his first computer so he could see the
pictures he had previously recorded from the Soviet slow scan TV
transmissions.  That inspired him to earn his ham ticket so he could talk
to the cosmonauts. And talk, he did. Since then, Mark has become well known
aboard the space shuttles and International Space Station by many astronauts
and cosmonauts.

Not only has Mark talked to them on voice mode, but became extremely proficient
at using the space station and satellites to communicate digitally. He even
discovered a new way of using one particular satellite to extend communication

Mark had the opportunity to meet some of the spacemen he had befriended
on-the-air when he made visits to Mission Control in Houston and to Kennedy
Space Center, where he also was thrilled to watch a shuttle launch. 

His enthusiasm with space communications inspired many hams to give it a try,
including myself. His advice was spot on so that I twice successfully made
voice contacts to the space station. I also had fun with Oscar-14 with Mark's
tips. If you operated an APRS station in Maine, you would recognize the KB1GVR
call sign, as Mark was also an avid APRS fan.

Mark's other pastimes included racing and flying with his brother in his plane
where his same determination brought him lots of success, rewards, and joy. The
walls of Marks home were decorated with the many ham radio and racing
certificates and awards he had earned and his vast collection of space
communications QSL cards is amazing, as many EAWA members can attest to as Mark
has brought them in for display in the past.

Mark was only 50 years old, but in his too-short life, he accomplished a lot.
As N1DP said on last night's Washington County ARES Net, Godspeed Mark. We will
miss you.

73, Phil Duggan, N1EP


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