Astronaut Owen Garriott, amateur radio callsign W5LFL, pioneered amateur radio communication from space on his STS-9 Space Shuttle Columbia flight, conducted November 28 to December 8, 1983. In his free time, during the STS-9 mission, Garriott became the first ever person from space to communicate with amateur radio operators on the ground. He was also the first to be heard directly from space by the public using simple FM receivers and scanners.
Dr. Garriott’s mission, 40 years ago, transformed astronaut communications from space forever, allowing amateur radio operators (hams) and the public to communicate with people in space. Prior to this, only a few mission controllers and heads of state could talk to an astronaut in space. Garriott represents the first of many spacefarers that employed amateur radio on the Space Shuttle, Mir space station and the International Space Station for public engagement, family connections and educational outreach. To date, well over a million people on Earth have participated directly in these astronaut radio contact engagements. The educational youth contacts, coupled with pre-contact education initiatives, have inspired, engaged and educated youth around the world and encouraged them to study and pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
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