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Author Topic: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?  (Read 926 times)

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Offline Halcyon

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Just going through a few things and remember when I was growing up 'tracking' the MIR space station with my father.

Of course back then, the internet was only new, but I remember downloading an old MS-DOS program (the name escapes me now -- sattrack or similar?) which used pre-calculated data files to display the locations of satellites (and other terrestrial objects) in "real time". It was fairly accurate (within a minute or two of local time) but all the data was offline, none of this live, updating from the internet rubbish.

From Sydney, Australia, on a clear night, we'd boot up the computer (a 486 DX2-66) and see when MIR was passing overhead, then ran outside and caught a glimpse with the naked eye of a fast moving dot across the sky.

I'm sure the are those old enough on here who listened to Sputnik 1 with radio equipment at home. I'd love to hear your stories.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2017, 05:41:20 PM by Halcyon »
 

Offline vk2amv

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Re: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2017, 06:29:09 PM »
I remember that old MS-DOS program.
I should still have it somewhere if I can find it.

Back then (early 90's) we had our house setup with a Novell Netware server, we were one of the very few houses in our town with more than one computer in the house (One per family member), and we had a Netware server from the beginning. (Mainly because my father setup the first network at the school my mother worked at using Novell Netware 3.12 so he setup a file server at home for ouur family to use and to help him learn the in's and out's of Netware 3.12, before he tried something new on the school server he would try it on our's first)

It was a big advantage back then because at the time sizable hard drive's were expensive, so we only had small hard drives in our computers (100 - 200Meg at most), and we had a 2 Gig hard drive in the server that cost a mint at the time as it was the biggest hard drive available on the market. (Later years a 3 Gig and then a huge 6 Gig drive was added)

Because everything was centralised it meant that as server upgrade's happened through the years, all the files were migrated, so I still have all the files from that original server, saved on a spot on my current Win 2016 server over 24 years on.

Anyway sorry, I got side tracked there by memories.
Point is if I can find it or remember the name of the program I should be able to get it running in Doxbox or something.
Although the keplerian elements will be long out of date now.

I do remember Dad loading up the program and pointing out when Mir would come overhead and we would go out to watch it, and sometimes Dad would try and make contacts via Amateur radio, sometimes sucessfully making a contact with either Cosmonauts or Astronauts on board via amateur radio for the few minutes it was in view.

I also remember for the same program we downloaded the elements (From a Packet Radio BBS run by a fellow Amateur Operator) to show where to look in the sky for comet Shoemaker-Levi 9 when it was floating around the solar system and heading towards Jupiter before impact.

Oh the memories.

EDIT:
So I couldn't let it go, I found it.
It was called InstantTrack by Paul Williamson KB5MU
Copied it into my Doxbox folder and it still runs.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 06:40:16 PM by vk2amv »
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Offline German_EE

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Re: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 11:14:12 PM »
For Linux users there is gpredict which show the ISS along with the ham radio satellites.

Back in the 1970's when I got my first licence I made a tracking disk for OSCAR. I remember there was a circle in the middle of a cardboard disk and a portion of a much larger circle drawn on a piece of acetate film. Once you knew the time and position of the first orbit of the day you could work out all of the others and if the line fell within your circle you could talk to the spacecraft.
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.

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Offline cdev

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Re: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2017, 11:48:03 PM »
People still do that today, for example, "predict" "predict-gsat" and "gpredict" on Linux.

 A really good program if you are on windows (this is the satellite program I wish I had on Linux) is WXTrack found at
http://satsignal.eu/software/wxsat.htm  (It runs great on Wine, BTW.)
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2017, 07:35:20 PM »
So I couldn't let it go, I found it.
It was called InstantTrack by Paul Williamson KB5MU
Copied it into my Doxbox folder and it still runs.

That's the one! Fancy sharing a ZIP file?

Ahh, brings back so many memories. Thanks for sharing! Great story too!
 

Offline vk2amv

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Re: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2017, 08:57:41 PM »
So I couldn't let it go, I found it.
It was called InstantTrack by Paul Williamson KB5MU
Copied it into my Doxbox folder and it still runs.
That's the one! Fancy sharing a ZIP file?

Done
https://www.dropbox.com/s/wirooswtekwag9v/ITRACK.zip?dl=0
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 05:48:55 PM by vk2amv »
It's only when you look at an ant through a magnifying glass on a sunny day, that you realise how often they burst into flames.
 

Offline jimdeane

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Re: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 07:07:37 AM »
There are/were a couple of programs by Dave Ransom, who I think worked at JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA).

One was JPLClock, which was a multi-mission time tracker.  Always liked the display. I run it in DOSBOX now.

The other was STSOrbit+, which used orbital data files to display the current location of the shuttle, satellites, MIR, ISS, etc. I believe this one may still work with current TLE data files, though I've not made the attempt to make it work.
 

Offline bitseeker

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Re: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 08:11:52 AM »
I vaguely remember tracking MIR. I have more recollection of the boxes of floppies and hours upon hours to install Netware. :-DD
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Offline cdev

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Re: Does anyone else have memories of tracking the MIR space station?
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2017, 08:21:13 AM »
In the end, among a number of other things, Mir was brought down by mutated plastic-insulation-eating mold, which caused a fire.

https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2007/11may_locad3

Also, the ventilation system wasn't up to the task of pulling in water droplets that formed in out of the way places in and dealing with them. They would just float in closed spaces breeding all sorts of bacteria and fungi in and around them.

The moldy smell in there was said to be almost unbearable. Now you will notice on ISS the constant sound of the very strong fans and carbon dioxide scrubbers going all the time. Special care has been taken to avoid the issues that plagued Mir. And luckily, its working.

A good example of international cooperation.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2017, 08:35:59 AM by cdev »
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