Sad News for Visual Satobs Community

I was checking a broken link on my Real Time Tracking Software page and could not get into David Ransom’s STS Plus Home Page. At first I thought may be the server was down so I just let it there and decided to check it later. Well, this morning I still could not get into it so I did a google search and I found the sad news below.


David Ransom lost his battle with congestive heart failure, passed away on 5 November. While it initially appeared that Dave would recover, things began failing one-by-one until he succumbed. Dave’s family was at his side at the end.

Like David Cottle said, “His passing on is a great sadness for the many people he has helped over the years and his friends who knew him.

He will be sadly missed.”

10 Responses to “Sad News for Visual Satobs Community”

  1. on 04 Dec 2006 at 5:09 pm Björn Gimle

    Indeed it is a great loss to us.
    Dave was my first international space contact.
    Years before I started using the Internet, I dialled his
    Rancho Palos Verdes (RPV) bulletin board.

    Indeed, he induced my restart in satellite observing
    after years in the wake of UK Departement of Scientific
    and Industrial Research stopped post office distribution
    of satellite elements (and predictions).

    I have also enjoyed – and still use – some of his programs.

    The first post about him that I find on SeeSat-L is

    My condoleances to his family.


    — COSPAR 5919 Malma 59.25N 18.63E —

  2. on 04 Dec 2006 at 8:02 pm Jeff Hunt

    I was saddened to hear of Dave’s passing. I’m no longer involved in satellite observing but I do remember that Dave’s STSPlus was my first introduction to this hobby on the Internet in the early 90’s. I’m sure Dave Ransom and his work with observing satellites has affected many of us who have observed satellites these many years.
    Thanks Dave for introducing me and others to satellite observing.

    My condoleances to his family,
    Jeff Hunt

  3. on 04 Dec 2006 at 10:32 pm attanone

    Björn and Jeff,

    Thanks for the notes. Like you two I was saddened when I first found the news. Today, I went to the web archives and found all the archives of Dave’s website, dated back from April 1997 – April 2006 over a span of 10 yeas. The last archive of April 27, 2006 is located here. People can also find a short biography of Dave by Dave at the end of that page. My heart, my thought and my prayer are with his family tonight.


  4. on 04 Dec 2006 at 11:19 pm Jonathan McDowell

    Condolences to Dave’s family and to all who knew him. Dave was a key member of the satellite hobbyist community and all of us who study the space program owe him a debt of gratitude.

    – Jonathan McDowell, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

  5. on 05 Dec 2006 at 7:06 am Quin

    Adios Dave.
    I can remember the RPV B-Board. I can remember the first versions of STS Tracking software you sent me on floppies. I still to this day run 0123 on my lap top. Thanks for making it easy to put the “wow” factor in old “pop pop’s” satellite tracking. With all three grandkids standing in the yard looking up; their eyes twinkle at all that metal we have put into orbit! And you showed me how to find it.

    Thinking man’s lurker.

  6. on 05 Dec 2006 at 9:44 pm attanone

    My thanks to Jonathan, Quin and Jay for sharing. In the past two days I have also found that beside David Cottle’s site, there are two other sites that had reported this sad news. One is the Scannerdesk who relayed the news on Nov 12, and the other one is actually my neighbor :-) at Win Track Pro who reported the news on Dec. 2. If any of you find any site or any posting related to Dave, please share with us here or email me and I will add the link so we can share it with Dave’s family later on. Thanks.


  7. on 05 Dec 2006 at 9:45 pm JAY RESPLER

    Dave’s software was among the first I ever tried. Very sorry to hear of his passing.
    His family can take pride in knowing his name will long be remembered.
    Jay Respler

  8. on 05 Dec 2006 at 10:24 pm Greg Williams

    My comments are as follows:

    Never have I used a more valuable and simple resource for satellites than Dave Ransom’s STS Orbit Plus.

    I’ve installed his software on a 8088 machine before. Slower than molasses, but it ran.

    I once demonstrated how to look for and attempt to contact the Mir many years ago (when Shannon Lucid was aboard) and used his software for the demo. The people in attendance were highly entertained and many became fans of the program that night.

    I still use his software to this day. One time I had an issue with the program and emailed Dave. He responded within the day with many helpful suggestions. I always remembered how helpful he was, when I knew he had to have been in high demand.

    One time while watching NASA TV, they showed a clip from one of the space centers that was tracking a research satellite, and sure enough, STS Orbit Plus was what they were using to track the bird. I’m sure that the astronauts on board ISS have it installed on their laptops to see where they are flying over.

    I never knew he had any health issues until his passing. I’m saddened at the loss and hope that his “simple” program is a constant in the ever-changing world of computers and internet technology. I plan to use it for many years to come.

    Greg Williams
    Knoxville, TN

  9. on 12 Dec 2006 at 12:12 am attanone

    Greg, it took me few days to reply since I was trying to find more info from people that worked on Sat-track at MSFC to see if they were aware of the use of STSPLus. However, most of the people I talked to were the people from ISS era, while the group that originally worked on tracking has already moved to other departments or some other places. All the works on orbital mechanics of ISS and STS are being done at JSC, using some of the tracking software that we can see on NASA Tracking page. But one thing for sure, Dave’s records on STS flights on his now removed home page were incredible. He made notes for all the Shuttle Flights since STS 86 to STS 107, and of course ISS. He was so dedicated. Thanks for sharing your memory of his work, Greg. 


  10. on 27 Dec 2006 at 7:39 pm John Ransom

    It’s with sadness that I came across news of my cousin Dave’s passing. I lost touch with him many years ago, regrettably. I found news of his passing as I’m attempting to update the family genealogy. If either of his siblings, his wife or children receive this, please feel free to contact me at Thanks…and my deepest sympathies.

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