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For Release: June 20, 1996

Catherine Watson
(804) 864-6122

Release No. 96-47

Note To Editors/News Directors

Amateur Radio Clubs Test Emergency Preparedness in National Exercise

As part of Amateur Radio Week, the NASA Langley Amateur Radio Club will be participating in a national exercise to test its ability to work under emergency conditions. To simulate actual emergency conditions, such as a hurricane strike in the Hampton Roads area, emergency power supplies will be used, including gas-powered generators and solar panels.

From 2 p.m. June 22 to 2 p.m. June 23, the NASA Langley club, in conjunction with the Southern Peninsula Amateur Radio Klub (SPARK), will attempt to contact other amateur radio operators worldwide. To test space communications equipment, attempts will be made to contact the Space Shuttle Columbia and the Russian space station Mir in orbit around the Earth. Members of SPARK also will use amateur radio satellites orbiting the Earth to contact amateur radio operators across the world.

The 1994 national exercise included more than 2,100 amateur radio clubs across the United States and Canada. This year's exercise is expected to include 50,000 amateur radio operators in North America. According to the 170,000-member American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the hobby is more popular than ever. There are currently more than 650,000 amateur radio operators in the country, an increase of 30 percent over 1990 levels.

Both clubs will begin setting up their equipment (tents, towers, radios and emergency generators) at 9 a.m. Saturday in the softball field behind the NASA Langley H.J.E. Reid Conference Center. The clubs will work out of tents during the entire 24 hours of the exercise to simulate actual emergency conditions. Interviews and photo opportunities are available.

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