Early History

The earliest records I have found, indicate that the Marshall Amateur Radio Club was organized in 1971 before the Apollo program ended, and began operating special event opportunities to commemorate various NASA achievements. Thousands of stations made contact with WM4SFC during the final Apollo missions, and around 9000 contacts were made during 1973 during the three Skylab missions. Over 2000 contacts with over 30 countries were made during the two day special event operation celebrating the launch of STS-1.

The Marshall ARC was well known for it’s connection to human space flight, as evidenced by the hundreds – possibly thousands of QSL cards we find in drawers and boxes in Bldg 4622. Many a ham was rewarded with a nice certificate confirming contact with numerous special events. Some of these are still in the file drawers and I hope to scan some more and put them on display here. We will also use this web site to communicate and coordinate various projects along the way to restoring this station to operation.

Here is a copy of the certificate commemorating the launch of STS-9. This mission was the first flight of Spacelab 1 in 1983, and marked an historic first in Amateur Radio when Dr. Owen Garriott (W5LFL) became the first “ham in space”, and logged over 350 2-way contacts in the 2-meter band. Approximately 10,000 shortwave listeners (SWL) sent in reception reports.

STS-9 commemorative certificate

STS-9 commemorative certificate

And here is an artistic rendition of a proposed new “Space Shuttle”, which appeared on the certificate commemorating the launch of Apollo XVII in December of 1972 – the 6th and final moon landing of the Apollo program. This may be the earliest vision of the Shuttle that I have ever seen, and from nearly 10 years before it ever flew . . .

early rendering of the future 'Space Shuttle'

early rendering of the future 'Space Shuttle'

Over the recent years the club and station have faded nearly out of view, and this site exists to help increase awareness of an effort to re-activate the club and preserve some of the history. If you are a NASA Civil Servant or contractor, or perhaps working with the Army on the Redstone Arsenal – please let us hear from you, we need your support. You can send email to me (alan – WB5RMG) via wa4nzd(at)somenet(dot)net.

This Marshall Amateur Radio Station is as much a time capsule as anything I have ever walked into. We are fortunate that it has not suffered any worse fate than neglect, and we will strive to help preserve an important piece of ham radio history. There are a lot of newcomers to the world of ham radio, and this is an excellent opportunity for some of us old-timers to pass on some of our accumulated wisdom (or at least some good stories . . .)
/;^)