Amateur Radio in Space Pioneer Astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL, SK
The US astronaut who pioneered the use of Amateur Radio to make contacts from space — Owen K. Garriott, W5LFL — died April 15 at his home in Huntsville, Alabama. He was 88. Garriott’s ham radio activity ushered in the formal establishment of Amateur Radio in space, first as SAREX — the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment, and later as ARISS — Amateur Radio on the International Space Station.
“Owen Garriott was a good friend and an incredible astronaut,” fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin tweeted. “I have a great sadness as I learn of his passing today. Godspeed Owen.”
Owen was also the father of Ultima series creator Richard Garriott, co-founded Origin Systems with him, and helped coach Richard for his trip to the ISS as a space tourist. They’re the only father/son astronauts in the U.S. to date. (There’s also only one pair of father/son cosmonauts in Russia.)
If you get a chance to read Richard’s memoir, “Explore/Create”, I highly recommend it. It goes into quite a bit of detail about a father/son relationship that, while not perfect, I still find myself a bit envious of.
I try to be more like Owen with my kids – pragmatic but accepting of whatever path they choose – than my dad was with me. I’m sure you can relate.