Frank Bell G7CND on BBC The One Show

Helen Sharman GB1MIR

Helen Sharman GB1MIR

On Friday, February 26, BBC’s The One Show featured radio amateur Frank Bell G7CND, UK astronauts Helen Sharman GB1MIR and Tim Peake GB1SS along with the Oasis Academy Brightstowe ARISS contact

Frank is a retired Science teacher who was instrumental in the amateur radio linkup in 1991 between students at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford and the UK’s first astronaut Helen Sharman GB1MIR who was on the Mir Space Station. With Frank were two of his former pupils, Les and Pete, who took part in the contact nearly 25 years ago.

The Oasis Academy Brightstowe amateur radio contact with Tim Peake took place on February 19.

The ISS and amateur radio segment of the show starts at 4:50 into the recording at

ARISS UK video of the Oasis Academy Brightstowe contact

First UK astronaut Helen Sharman GB1MIR

ARISS Principia site

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A free booklet is available aimed at introducing newcomers to the hobby that can also be used as a handy reference while getting started, see

“First” UK radio ham to contact space station astronauts

Mir Space Station

Mir Space Station

A newspaper story says a Swindon radio amateur was believed to be the first in the UK to contact an astronaut on a space station, the Russian Mir, which hosted UK and USA astronauts.

The story published in the Swindon Advertiser on August 7 says: “…it took place almost 20 years before another amateur hit the headlines this week for doing the same thing.

Radio ham Donald Shirreff [G3BGM], who died in 2010, was believed to be the first amateur radio enthusiast to successfully make contact with astronauts aboard an international space station more than 19 years ago.

In 1996, former MI5 agent Donald, then 77, took an unusual approach to his retirement and set his sights on contacting cosmonauts aboard Russian space station Mir.”

Read the Swindon Advertiser story at

However, it appears there were many other UK contacts with Mir prior to Donald Shirreff G3BGM. See details of the contacts made in 1991 by Chris Lorek G4HCL and radio amateurs in schools across the UK at

On Aug 7,  commenting on the Daily Mail website on the story about a recent ISS amateur radio contact, Donald Shirreff’s son (User ID crunchbard) posted:

“My father Donald Shirreff (1918-2010) used to communicate in the 1990s with Russian cosmonauts on the Mir space station as it flew over his Wiltshire farmhouse. He was a keen radio ham, with a 40-foot mast in the garden. Though he spoke some Russian he often used Yana, a Russian friend, as translator. The cosmonauts seemed to enjoy this light relief after hard work over Russian territory. His greatest coup was to talk to British-born Michael Foale when he was a guest on Mir.”

See the Daily Mail story and his son’s comment at

Donald Shirreff G3BGM Obituary

August 2015 UK radio ham’s ISS contact in the press

24th Anniversary of Helen Sharman’s Spaceflight

Helen Sharman GB1MIRAt 1250 GMT on May 18, 1991 Helen Sharman GB1MIR became the United Kingdom’s first astronaut when she blasted off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on her way to the Mir space station.