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June 10, 2004

AMSAT Weekly Satellite Report

Satellite DX

RELEASE: 04-191


The success of the Apollo 11 mission that landed NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the Moon July 20, 1969, was a defining moment that opened a new era in human history. Today, as NASA marks the 35^th anniversary of that first lunar landing, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., celebrates the role it played in the Apollo program. Under the leadership of its first director, Dr. Wernher von Braun, the Marshall Center developed the Saturn V rocket that carried our astronauts to the Moon.
In a post-flight press conference, Armstrong called the flight "a beginning of a new age." Even then, Astronaut Michael Collins - who orbited the Moon in command module/ Columbia/ while his colleagues made the historic Moon landing in their lunar module/ Eagle/ - talked about future journeys to Mars.
"The world experienced its greatest technology achievement when NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong first stepped on the surface of the Moon, taking a "giant leap" for humanity. That event captured the imagination of the nation and inspired a new generation of space explorers," said Marshall Center Director David King. "As we observe this anniversary NASA is embarking upon a new journey of discovery."
The Marshall Center is looking to the future, working to fulfill its role in implementing the Vision for Space Exploration which calls for a return to the Moon followed by human and robotic journeys of discovery to other destinations in the solar system.
The Marshall Center, with its expertise in space transportation systems, space propulsion, microgravity science, space systems and more, will play a significant role in fulfilling the Vision for Space Exploration. Goals include safely returning the Space Shuttle to flight; focusing the use of the Shuttle to complete assembly of the International Space Station; and retiring the Shuttle as soon as the Space Station is completed, around the end of the decade.
NASA's longer terms goals, which will unfold over future generations, include:
· A sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond. · Extending human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon before the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations.
· Developing innovative technologies, knowledge and infrastructures to explore and support decisions about the destinations for human exploration. · Promoting international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security and economic interests.

ECHO satellite enroute to launch site

AMSAT News Service Bulletin 161.01 From AMSAT HQ
SILVER SPRING, MD. June 9, 2004

Chuck Green, N0ADI, reporting in from SpaceQuest's facility says, "ECHO is in it's shipping container and on its way to the launch sight."
As a final check ECHO was placed in the vacuum chamber for an hour and pushed hard with both 70 cm transmitters running full power. Everything that could be tested in this configuration worked well.
Chuck said, "We also checked the sensitivity of all the 2M receivers and the SQRX (wideband tunable receiver) and they were all very good." Continuing, he added, "We also characterized the received signal strength indicator (RSSI) and measured the power out of the 70 cm transmitters at various power settings"
Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, added, "Congratulations on a job well done! A lot of hard work has gone into getting ECHO to this point and we're looking forward to following ECHO's progress through launch".
More news and information about the final integration activities will be in this week's regular AMSAT News Service bulletin.

[ANS thanks Robin and Chuck for the above information]


The Elser-Mathes Cup, sitting idle for more than 75 years, is intended to mark the occasion of the first two-way Amateur Radio contact between Earth and Mars. That day may be moving closer. The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International Team will contemplate ham radio's role as NASA--in response to a recent presidential initiative--seeks to expand the horizons of human spaceflight to the moon, Mars and beyond. During an International Team meeting March 25-26 in the Netherlands, ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said NASA's Education Office has asked ARISS to consider endorsing the initiative and start laying some groundwork for an Amateur Radio presence. That makes perfect sense to ARISS Secretary-Treasurer Rosalie White, K1STO, of ARRL.
"Our space agencies are going to Mars now, so it's natural we should think about it and do initial planning now," said White, who was among the more than two dozen ARISS delegates on hand at the European Space Research and Technology Center in Noordwijk. "We could start by targeting our educational materials on exploration beyond the International Space Station." The ISS--the home of the first permanent Amateur Radio station in space--is scheduled for completion in 2010 using the space shuttle fleet, which then would be mothballed.
Some ideas Bauer floated during the gathering included an Amateur Radio payload on the Red Planet as well as a Mars telecommunications satellite, remotely controlled Amateur TV and a repeater on the moon. The long-range planning will get further discussion when the ARISS International Team meets again in October.
In other matters, the ARISS team learned that a planned slow-scan television (SSTV) system will not launch to the ISS this year. With just two crew members aboard the space station and a need to make the most use of space aboard Russian Progress supply rockets, NASA has suggested that ARISS hold up the SSTV payload for a Progress rocket flight closer to the space shuttle's return to flight, when the ISS again will have a crew of three.
The two-person crews have not had much time to install and test ARISS projects, including the Phase II gear put into place earlier this year. While it's on the air for RS0ISS packet operations, the Phase II gear will not see routine FM voice use for school group contacts and casual QSOs until it gets a full on-the-air checkout. The SSTV gear needs additional preflight testing as well as work on the associated software.
AMSAT-Russia's Karen Tadevosyan, RA3APW, is completing modifications to a Yaesu FT-100 HF/VHF/UHF transceiver. That equipment could go up to the ISS on a Progress rocket flight this fall. Other projects still in the discussion stage include an external digital ATV transponder and beacon. ARISS also is considering a project to use Amateur Radio via IRLP and/or EchoLink to link to the ISS via the Internet.
The ISS could gain a third ham station once the European Space Agency's Columbus module goes into space. Through-hull fittings, or "feedthroughs," are being installed for as many as eight coaxial cable runs, although funding remains an issue. The feedthroughs would permit the module to accommodate UHF, L and S-band operations possibly using patch-type antennas being designed by ARISS volunteers.
ARISS delegates also recognized the achievements and contributions of Roy Neal, K6DUE (SK), toward making the ARISS program a reality. Neal, a former NBC News science correspondent and executive, died last August 15.


Students at a South Carolina middle school who spoke via ham radio with the International Space Station this week enjoyed the experience so much they're already eager to do it again. On March 8, youngsters at DuBose Middle School in Summerville questioned ISS Crew Commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, about life aboard the space outpost. The contact was arranged via the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. Operating from NA1SS, Foale told the sixth through eighth graders that he was able to see prominent features of South Carolina from his vantage point in space. He said the ISS crew can see eclipses and other planets in space as well.
"The moon just went by Jupiter, and it was really an amazing sight to see as I was going into the dark side of Earth," Foale said. The ISS was passing above the US West Coast at the time. In a follow-up reply, he described the inky darkness of the cosmic void and how stars and planets appear. "It is totally black in space," he said. "There are some parts of space where there are no stars visible at all, because there are gas clouds out there in the galaxy. And that is so dark, it's hard to imagine." Foale said stars appear brighter and more colorful from space than they do from Earth.
One youngster wanted to know if astronauts could wear such appliances as hearing aids, braces or contact lenses in the zero-gravity environment of the ISS. "Actually, I wear ear plugs just because it's noisy up here," Foale replied. "If I had braces, they wouldn't be a problem, and lots of astronauts do wear contact lenses."
As he's indicated in past ARISS school group contacts, Foale said he "absolutely" would like to participate in a future mission to Mars, but he said he expected that job would fall to younger generations. "I do believe you and your classmates and your friends have a better chance of doing that than I do," he said.
When the 10-minute contact was done, DuBose eighth-grade science teacher Alene Wilkins, KG4NKD, called it "the best experience I have had since I started teaching."
Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, and Herb Sullivan, K6QXB, handled Earth station duties at W6SRJ in California. An MCI teleconference circuit relayed two-way audio between the two coasts.
ARISS; is an international educational outreach program with US participation from ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.--some information provided by Charlie Sufana, AJ9N

Thank you ARRL


NASA this week postponed an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS); school group contact as the space agency and the station crew continued efforts to pin down what was causing air pressure to decay aboard the ISS. Students at Armstrong Middle School in Flint, Michigan, had been scheduled to speak with Expedition 8 commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, at NA1SS early on January 12. Space agency officials now believe the culprit was an air leak in the US Destiny Lab module. "The pressure loss was traced to a braided flex hose on an observation window in the Destiny module," NASA said. The hose reportedly helps keep air and condensation out of the Destiny module's Earth-facing window. Foale and flight engineer Alex "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR, detected the hose leak using ultrasound equipment, and Foale reported the hissing sound stopped after the hose was disconnected. As of January 15, air pressure aboard the ISS continued to hold steady. Although the leak may now be fixed, NASA has announced that Foale and Kaleri--along with flight controllers--will carry out an ISS air pressure test over the weekend. "The crew will close the hatches to divide the space station into three separate sections for leak checks and to gather data on air pressure fluctuations," NASA said. Foale and Kaleri will remain in the Zvezda Service Module from the evening of January 16 until the morning of January 18. The space agency said the earlier decline in air pressure had amounted to only a few hundredths of a pound per square inch each day and did not endanger the crew. ARISS team member Scott Lindsey-Stevens, N3ASA, said ARISS "looks forward to the ISS crew's resumption of their inspiring conversations with the schools."


Veteran NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao will replace William McArthur Jr, KC5ACR, as the commander of Expedition 9, the next mission aboard the International Space Station. NASA says the change in crew assignment resulted from "a temporary medical issue" related to McArthur's qualifications for the long-duration flight. Chiao will join Russian cosmonaut and flight engineer Valery Tokarev for the six-month mission. "Because we are very cautious in our approach to crew health, we train backups for this kind of situation," said Astronaut Office Chief KentRominger. He indicated that NASA plans to assign McArthur to another ISS crew increment. For his part, McArthur expressed disappointment in the turn of events but said he understood the necessity of the medical criteria in place for long-duration space flight. "I know that Leroy will ensure all of the Expedition 9 objectives are met," McArthur said, "and I look forward to flying soon on another space station mission." As a member of the Expedition 9 backup crew, Chiao has been training with McArthur for months. He will also serve as NASA ISS Science Officer. Since the switch would leave the ISS without an Amateur Radio licensee aboard during the next crew's tour, it's anticipated that Chiao will become licensed before he goes into space. The Expedition 9 crew is scheduled for launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in April. European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands will round out the three-member Soyuz crew. He will return to Earth a week later with the Expedition 8 crew of Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Alex "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR. An astronaut since 1990, Chiao, 43, has had prior flight experience aboard space shuttle missions in 1994, 1996 and 2000. On his last shuttle flight, Chiao helped to prepare the ISS for its first resident crew. Tokarev, 51, has been a cosmonaut since 1987. He flew on a 1999 shuttle mission that delivered four tons of logistics and supplies to the ISS in preparation for the arrival of the Expedition 1 crew.--NASA


The bidding begins January 21 on a handsome original sculpture of the AO-40 satellite as AMSAT-NA auctions off the work of art on eBay to help fund the AMSAT-OSCAR ECHO (AO-ECHO) satellite launch campaign. The auction will run for 10 days, and the winning bid will be recognized as a donation to the launch campaign. "This bronze is one of only four pieces, created by long time AMSAT member Floyd Thorn, N5SVP, now a Silent Key," said AMSAT Marketing Manager Jim Jarvis, N2EA. "It has been donated to AMSAT by his family to support the AO-ECHO launch campaign." Jarvis said the sculpture measures 11x4 inches and weighs just over a pound. The wooden base bears a brass plaque with the sculptor's name and call sign. Visit the AMSAT-NA Web site; for detailsand to link to the auction. The AO-ECHO fund currently stands at nearly $49,000. AMSAT-NA says it will need $110,000 for the launch--currently scheduled for March 31, although the launch window remains open until May. Visit the AMSAT AO-ECHO Web page; for additional details.


AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, says he's looking forward to the 2004 launches of AMSAT-NA's ECHO satellite; and AMSAT-India's VUsat (also known as "HAMSAT"). In his last President's Letter for 2003, Haighton reported that ECHO is passing final integration and testing with flying colors. "I am looking forward to the end of March, when we expect the ECHO launch to take place," he said. With less than three months until the anticipated launch, AMSAT-NA still needs to raise more than $60,000 for the launch campaign. The new microsat-class satellite is undergoing integration and testing at SpaceQuest in Fairfax, Virginia. Jim White, WD0E, and Mike Kingery, KE4AZN, are heading up the integration process. Among its other capabilities, AO-ECHO will enable satellite voice communication using handheld FM transceivers. The satellite will incorporate two UHF transmitters, each running from 1 to 8 W and capable of simultaneous operation, four VHF receivers and a multiband, multimode receiver capable of operation on the 10 meter, 2 meter, 70 cm and 23 cm bands. ECHO will feature V/U, L/S and HF/U operational configurations, with V/S, L/U and HF/S also possible. FM voice and various digital modes--including PSK31 on a 10-meter SSB uplink--also will be available. Haighton reported that VUsat http://www.amsat/; experienced some problems in testing but these are being resolved. A VUsat launch could come as soon as late summer. VUsat will incorporate two linear transponders, with a UHF uplink and VHF downlink and CW, USB and FM capabilities. "An exciting year is ahead," said Haighton, who's already announced that he does not intend to seek another term at the AMSAT-NA helm when his current term expires in October. By then, he said, ECHO should be inorbit, but, paraphrasing Yogi Berra, he added, "It ain't up and working till it's up and working."


Astronaut Mike Foale, KB5UAC, fired up the new Phase 2 Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) equipment December 21 to make a number of 2-meter contacts with amateurs around the world. The Expedition 8 commander completed QSOs with amateurs in Australia, Europe and North America from 1100 to approximately 1700 UTC. "I heard him at approximately 1100 UTC and also on the next pass." commented Ib Christofferson, OZ1MY, on the SAREX reflector. "He had a large pileup." A new Kenwood TM-D700E VHF-UHF dualband transceiver was installed late last fall in the ISS Zvezda Service Module--the crew's living quarters. ARISS International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said official permission to use the new gear came December 17. The RS0ISS packet system also is back in operation. "This equipment, including antennas, radios, hardware and software were developed and provided by a diverse set of team members located around the world," Bauer said in a year-end statement. "This was quite a challenge to make happen." Activation of the new gear means a power boost from 5 W to 25 W for the NA1SS downlink signal. It also means the ISS now has two functional ham stations. Additional Phase 2 equipment--which could go into space this month--is to include a slow-scan television (SSTV) system and a Yaesu FT-100 HF/VHF/UHF transceiver. "I was able to hear him from as far out as 1200 miles," reported Arthur Rowe, N1ORC, of Lawrence, Massachusetts. "I guess that the new output power was helping." Foale's operation was part of a special event to honor SAREX/ARISS Working Group Chairman Roy Neal, K6DUE, who died last August. Stations contacting or monitoring the ISS on voice (NA1SS) or packet (RS0ISS) through the end of 2003 are eligible for special event certificates. See "K6DUE ISS Commemorative Event Certificates" on the ARISS Web site for details.
ARISS is an international educational outreach program with participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT.


Ham radio in space has reached another milestone with the successful installation and checkout of the first Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Phase 2 equipment. The ISS now sports a new Kenwood TM-D700E dualband transceiver in the Zvezda Service Module--the crew's living quarters. ISS Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, set up the new transceiver at NA1SS earlier this month. Only official approval is needed to begin operations. Activation of the new gear will mean a power boost for the NA1SS downlink signal, which could prove especially helpful in school group contacts. The additional equipment--which soon will include a slow-scan television (SSTV) system--also opens up new operational possibilities. "Clearly, we've got multiop, multi-station capability," ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, told ARRL. The ARISS Japan Team donated the Kenwood radio and made certain hardware and firmware modifications--including limiting its power output to a maximum of 25 W--to prepare it for flight, he said. Bauer and the ARISS US Team recently returned from Russia following successful ground testing of Phase 1 and Phase 2 equipment using a set of flight-identical ARISS antennas as well as testing of a slow-scan TV (SSTV) system. The Phase 2 gear will use the four antennas installed on the Service Module during space walks in 2002 specifically to support Amateur Radio operations. Addition of the new antennas, which will cover from HF to microwave frequencies, opened the door to deploying the two separate ham stations aboard the orbiting outpost. Waiting in the wings is a Yaesu FT-100 HF/VHF/UHF transceiver that could go into space in January along with the new SSTV gear. Bauer says the second ham station with the Kenwood transceiver is near the Service Module's dinner table and the window. "This prime location will allow the crew to more conveniently use the ISS ham radio system," he said. "They'll be able to look out the window while operating from the Service Module" Complementing the Kenwood TM-D700E will be an Ericsson 70-cm handheld. "Our intention is to operate SSTV on 70 cm with the Ericsson equipment," Bauer said, while the crew will use the Kenwood transceiver for ARISS school group contacts as well as for casual QSOs on 2 meters. The Kenwood radio also incorporates a TNC and can support the RS0ISS packet system, not yet back in operation. The Phase 1 "initial station" Ericsson 2-meter handheld, which has served as the only NA1SS gear for more than three years, will remain in place in the ISS Zarya Functional Cargo Block (FGB). Details of the ARISS Phase 2 gear is available on AMSAT's ARISS Web page;.


Santa Claus will have company in the sky above most US cities on Christmas Eve.
"The International Space Station will be visible, weather permitting, with its two crewmen snug in sleeping bags secured to the walls, with visions of dehydrated turkey dancing in their heads," NASA says. The ISS will pass over cities from New York to Los Angeles and most points in between. It will be easily visible at various times December 23-26. There's been no information from the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS); team to indicate that NA1SS will be active, but it might be a good idea to monitor the 145.800-MHz downlink frequency just in case (the North American uplink frequency is 144.49 MHz). More information is available on NASA's Satellite Sighting Information page;. ISS Expedition 8 crew commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and cosmonaut and flight engineer Alex "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR, now are more than a third of the way into their six-month ISS duty tour. For the holiday, they will enjoy as traditional a Christmas as possible while in orbit some 230 miles above Earth. NASA says the crew has saved a special ration of smoked turkey just for the occasion. They also have Velcro ornaments and a space-saving NOMEX; Christmas tree. "The crew has special Christmas stockings, filled by Santa before they left Earth, with special treats and gifts from family and friends," NASA says. On Christmas Day, they will see and speak with their families via a two-way video linkup. Back on Earth, teams of flight controllers and experiment investigators in Houston, Texas, Huntsville, Alabama, and Moscow will spend Christmas with the crew as well. "Keeping the station operating well is a 24/7 job," said NASA Flight Director Jeff Hanley. "We are sharing our holiday with our crew in space."--NASA

* Ham radio payloads on high-altitude balloons focus of NASA-TV airing:

NASA-TV will air a program later this month dealing with Amateur Radio payloads and high-altitude ballooning. Arizona Near Space Research (ANSR); has announced that NASA-TV will air its program Introduction to High-Altitude Ballooning Monday, December 29, as part of its "Education File" program series. It will air at 8 AM, 2 PM, 5 PM, 8 PM and 2 AM (December 30) Eastern Time. "We are one of three programs in the hour-long time slot and are scheduled to start at 30 minutes past the hour," says ANSR President Michael Gray, KD7LMO, who advises that the schedule is subject to change and viewers should check the program listings the day of the airing. NASA-TV is available through DirectTV channel 376, Dish Network channel 213, on many cable systems, non-encrypted C-Band (big dish) satellites and as streaming video from the NASA-TV Web site;. The program covers a launch from preparation and liftoff through ascent to more than 100,000 feet and touchdown. "The goal of ANSR is to promote science and education through high altitude balloons and Amateur Radio," Gray says. The program demonstrates use of a voice repeater as a balloon payload as well as Amateur Position Reporting System (APRS) tracking and Amateur TV. "It also shows how we work with educational groups to promote Amateur Radio," he adds. Visit Gray's Web site; for additional information.

Thank you ARRL and NASA


UO-14 has officially ended its long run as an Amateur Radio satellite, although it continues to transmit telemetry and respond to commands from Earth. The Mission Control Centre at the Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) Center for Satellite Engineering Research announced this week that the venerable and popular bird "has reached the end of its mission after nearly 14 years in orbit." Launched in 1990, UoSAT-OSCAR-14 pioneered the PACSAT communication concept as the first 9.6 kbps Amateur Radio data communications satellite, although it became best known in recent years as an FM "easy sat." "Since launch, UO-14 has completed over 72,000 orbits and as many charge/discharge cycles of its on-board NiCd battery," said AMSAT-UK Chairman Martin Sweeting, G3YJO. "However recently one of the battery cells has become exhausted and can no longer support continuous operation of the repeater." Sweeting said UO-14's transmitter shuts down shortly after it is commanded "on" due to undervoltage, so the microsatellite's mission has been terminated. "Thank you UO-14 for your long service!" Sweeting concluded. AMSAT-NA Board Member Bruce Paige, KK5DO, an enthusiastic UO-14 user, called the AMSAT-UK announcement "sad news." He said the loss of UO-14 leaves amateurs with SO-41 and SO-50 as the only two LEO FM voice satellites. He noted, however, that the planned 2004 launch of OSCAR-ECHO would help to fill the void. OSCAR-ECHO is set to launch next March 31. The popular and heavily used FM satellite's repeater quit working in August, but hope remained within the amateur satellite community that UO-14 somehow could be revived. Ground controller Chris Jackson, G7UPN, at one point was able to reset the satellite, but he later determined that UO-14 had suffered a primary power system failure that was causing the spacecraft to shut down during some eclipses. During its active lifetime, UO-14 served several roles. After some 18 months as a PACSAT, UO-14 was switched to non-amateur frequencies for humanitarian use by Volunteers In Technical Assistance, which used it for messaging into Africa. After the store-and-forward communications computer proved no longer able to perform that task, UO-14 was turned back to amateur use as a single-channel FM voice repeater. UO-14 again served a humanitarian role in early 2001 when hams assisting with earthquake relief operations in the Indian State of Gujarat took advantage of the satellite to provide communication from the stricken region. The beauty of UO-14 was that it required minimal gear to make contacts--typically 5 W and modest antennas would do the trick. Operators with dualband handheld transceivers and "rubber duckie" antennas often could make QSOs via UO-14.


The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS); international team has announced an on-the-air event to commemorate Roy Neal, K6DUE, who died August 15. Neal--born Roy N. Hinkel--chaired the Space Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX)/Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Working Group. ARISS has requested that the ISS Expedition 8 crew of commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Alex "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR, communicate from space with earthbound radio amateurs during the November 29-30 weekend. In addition, stations contacting the ISS by voice (NA1SS) or packet (RS0ISS) through the end of December will be eligible for a special anniversary event certificate. "Our good friend and noted NBC news correspondent Roy Neal, K6DUE (SK), had a vision--to make Amateur Radio a permanent feature on human spaceflight missions," said ARISS Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, and Sergej Samburov, RV3DR, in making the announcement. A retired NBC News science correspondent, producer and executive, Neal was key to convincing NASA management to fly Amateur Radio onboard the space shuttle, Bauer said. He also cited Neal's involvement in forming the ARISS international team and moderating its gatherings. Human spaceflight took the first step to Neal's vision on November 28, 1983, with the launch of the first Amateur Radio station aboard the space shuttle Columbia. A few days later, astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL, became the astronaut to speak from space via ham radio. In October 1988, a Russian Amateur Radio team led by Sergej Samburov, RV3DR, and Larry Agabekov, UA6HZ/N2WW, launched and deployed the first amateur station on the space station Mir. During the AMSAT-NA symposium the following month, Leo Labutin, UA3CR (SK), communicated with cosmonaut Musa Manorov, U2MIR, aboard Mir. Amateur Radio communication from the ISS began three years ago this month. On November 13, 2000, Expedition 1 crew members Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL, spoke with R3K, the Energia amateur station in Russia, and with NN1SS, the ISS ground station at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The successful deployment and use of the ARISS gear marked the first permanent Amateur Radio station in space--and the fruition of Neal's vision of some two decades earlier. "On behalf of the ARISS international team, we congratulate the international Amateur Radio community on these exceptional accomplishments and commemorate Roy Neal, K6DUE, for his vision and tremendous support to ARISS team," Bauer and Samburov said. Frequencies: Worldwide voice and packet downlink (RS0ISS): 145.80 MHz; worldwide packet uplink: 145.99 MHz; voice uplink (NA1SS) for Regions 2 and 3 (the Americas and the Pacific): 144.49 MHz; voice uplink for Region 1 (Europe, Central Asia and Africa): 145.20 MHz. ARISS request that participants in the special event keep all contacts short. A subsequent announcement will provide details on QSLing and how to obtain certificates.

Latest ARISS hardware now aboard ISS !

The docking of the 12P Progress vehicle to the ISS, as described in:

Means that the latest ARISS hardware is now on-board the ISS! In a joint Russian, US, Japan development effort, a new radio system for the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station was developed, qualified, and flown on this Progress vehicle. The first installment of the Phase 2 hardware---a Kenwood radio, specially built ISS Ham radio power supplies and antenna switches were delivered on this Progress flight. The Russian team, led by Sergej Samburov, RV3DR, certified the hardware for flight and provided the ride, the Japanese team provided (donated) the Kenwood radio to the ARISS team and the US team, in conjunction with the Japan and Russian team, developed the software to provide a powerful system with a very user-friendly interface for crew. We expect that Mike Foale and Alexander Kaleri will install and checkout this system on the next ISS Expedition. In addition to the Kenwood radio system that we launched on this flight, we have a second radio system, a Yaesu FT-100, that will be launched on the 14P Progress flight in January. Also on 14P, we expect to fly the Spacecam-1 SSTV system. Developed cooperatively between the MAREX-NA and ARISS teams, the system is being certified for flight at NASA GSFC at this time. Once on-orbit, it will allow pictures to be sent up and down to ISS between ground-based hams and the crew. The Kenwood radio system will support 2 meter and 70 cm operations (uplink and downlink) and L-band uplink with up to 25 watts of output power. FM voice, APRS and packet capabilities are included.

Frank Bauer, KA3HDO
ARISS International Chairman



Another two-ham crew will take over the reins of the International Space Station (ISS) this fall. Veteran NASA astronaut Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and seasoned Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri, U8MIR, have been named as the ISS Expedition 8 crew. As former crew members aboard the Russian Mir space station, Foale and Kaleri are no strangers to long stays in space.
They'll kick off their latest space station duty tours October 18 when they launch into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with a third ham, Spain's Pedro Duque, KC5RGG--representing the European Space Agency (ESA). They'll dock two days later at the ISS.

The English-born Foale, 46, will serve as the Expedition 8 commander and NASA ISS science officer. Kaleri will be the Soyuz commander and ISS flight engineer. They'll replace Expedition 7 crew members Commander Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, and Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, who have been aboard the ISS since April.

A native of Latvia, Kaleri, 47, was a member of the backup crew for Expedition 5 and had been scheduled to be the third Expedition 7 crew member before the Columbia tragedy trimmed the Expedition 7 crew, and Kaleri was the proverbial odd man out. At least until the space shuttle
returns to flight, two-person crews will be the rule and the Soyuz, which carries three passengers, will remain the prime crew transport system. Foale and Kaleri are scheduled to spend approximately six months aboard the ISS.

Space agency leaders from the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia spoke by telephone July 30 with Malenchenko and Lu and noted the significant milestone of the 1000th day (on July 29) of continuous human presence aboard the ISS. The first crew arrived at the ISS November 2, 2000.


CanX-1 Ham Satellite in Space

CanX-1 is na amateur satellite built by students at the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Canada. The satellite was launched  the morning of July 1 and they are expecting to receive a signal from it as it makes its first pass over there ground station. They would like to ask anyone interested to listen for its beacon and report back whether they can hear it.

The downlink frequency is 437.880MHz. The beacon is a digital signal consisting of two tones, one at 1.2kHz and another at 1.8kHz.

The TLE for CanX-1 is:
1 98989U 03181.61581401 -.00000000 00000-0 15762-6 0 00004
2 98989 098.7180 188.5466 0008263 282.8682 268.4369 14.19789389000019

Please send your reports to:  [email protected]

More information on the CanX program can be found on the web at:

info from pe2jmr


AO-40 Update
As of 2003 June 5, AO-40's attitude was ALON / ALAT = 342 / 0.

The passband schedule has been shifted slightly to correspond with the changing attitude as shown in the table below.

N  QST AMSAT AO-40          SCHEDULE                2003-06-01
                MA      002   030   130   244   002
                S2/K-Tx  |  S  |  S  |  S  |  S  |
                MB       |  *  |  *  |  *  |  *  |
                RUDAK    |     |     |     |     |
                V/U-Rx   |  U  |  U  |  U  |  V  |
                Uplink   |     | UL1 |     |     |
[ANS thanks Stacey, W4SM, for the above information]

PCSat2 Testing Continues
PCsat <=> PCSAT2 constellation test success.

On 02 June 2003 PCSAT2 (fully configured flight prototype) was rolled out onto the plaza for the 1210z pass of PCsat for a dual-satellite constellation test. Since PCSAT2 was in its normal flight configuration (but sitting on the ground), this would demonstrate the range over which the two spacecraft could communicate on orbit between their whip antennas. The results were excellent!

PCSAT2 was set to transmit a packet via PCsat once every 20 seconds. Both birds on 145.825 MHz. These packets normally compete with other user packets. Since the channel is contention based 100% throughput is never expected. But a success means that the two spacecraft can communicate over that range. There were 7 other spacecraft users at the time.

TIME     AZ  EL RANGE   Comments
-------- --- -- ------- ------------------------------------
08:10:18 Finished commanding PCsat into proper mode for test
08:10:29 107 49 1024 km Success
08:10:49 095 48 1040 km not heard
08:11:05 087 46 1066 km Success
08:11:25 078 43 1112 km not heard
08:11:45 070 39 1173 km Success
08:12:05 064 36 1246 km not heard
08:12:25 059 32 1329 km Success
08:12:45 055 29 1420 km Success
08:13:05 051 26 1510 km not heard
08:13:24 049 23 1616 km not heard.  Blocked by Rickover Building
Then it rained again. The PCSat2 team had been waiting to do this test for almost 2 weeks. At this time it is not known if the ultimate range is about 1500 km or whether we could have heard more if the building had not intervened. There was no success before the time shown, as that time was spent commanding PCsat to the proper mode. It will be at least 2 weeks before there is another opportunity for this type of testing.

Bob Bruinga, WB4APR, adds, "We hope others that are building small AX.25 packet satellites will consider including a TNC digipeater on 145.825 to add to this amateur satellite constellation."

Bob also reports that PCSAT2's July launch has been delayed to January pending resumption of Shuttle flights.

[ANS thanks Bob, WB4APR, for the above information]

Field Day Planning for AO-40

A-40 should return to ALON/ALAT = 0/0 about June 20th. We can stay at ALON/ALAT = 0/0 until early October, when another cycle of attitude changes will have to start. A typical passband schedule for ALON/ALAT = 0/0 is MA 40 to 210. This has the passbands active when the squint is approximately 30 degrees or less. Barring an unforeseen problem, plan on a similar schedule for field day. AO-40 will be visible by all of North America at the start of field day, Saturday June 28th This is all based on making it back to 0/0 by June 20th. We should at least be close to that value by then, though the perigee eclipses are making it slow going to advance ALON.

[ANS thanks Stacey, W4SM, for the above information]

FO-29 Data Requested

The JARL FO-29 command station is carefully considering options to turn on FO-29's transmitter because it is not clear why FO-29 became silent. The command team would like to receive reception reports. If you hear FO-29, please report the time (UTC), location, signal strength etc. to Masa, JN1GKZ at [email protected] or to the AMSAT-BB. Masa will pass the reports on to the command station.

Telemetry data recorded on 31 May and 1 Jun just before FO-20 became silent would be very helpful as the command team's attempts to determine what happened on FO-29.

[ANS thanks Masa, JN1GKZ, for the above information]

This Week's News in Brief

Five 5 MHz spot frequencies will become available to amateurs in the United States effective at midnight July 3. General and higher class license holders will be permitted to operate on a secondary basis upper sideband phone, with a maximum of 50 watts effective radiated power.
The Odyssey Launch Platform and the Sea Launch Commander departed Sea Launch Home Port last week, for the launch of the Thuraya-2 satellite. Liftoff is scheduled for June 10, in a 44-minute launch window that opens at 6:56 am PDT (13:56:00 GMT).
Europe launched its first ever bid to explore Mars Monday, June 2, successfully embarking on a half-year journey to unearth one of the oldest mysteries; whether there is life on the Red Planet.
Saturn, one of the windiest places in the Solar System, is undergoing a dramatic weather change. Just over two decades ago, snapshots of the distinctive clouds in Saturn's equatorial region showed a jetstream that sped along at a bruising 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) per hour. Now the winds have slowed to a relatively pedestrian 1,100 kph (690 mph), according to astronomers.



NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, told youngsters at his hometown alma mater via ham radio this week that zero gravity (G) feels a bit like going over the top on a roller coaster. The May 27 Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact with Klem Road South School in Webster, New York, was the first for a member of the two-ham ISS Expedition 7 crew and for Lu, who had attended the kindergarten through grade 5 school some three decades ago.

"If you've ever been on a roller coaster and you go over the top of the roller coaster you feel that feeling like you're kinda light--you're floating up on your feet," Lu explained. "It's almost exactly like that but a lot stronger." Weightlessness "feels great." After some time in zero gravity, however, "it feels like your legs weigh a ton," he added, describing his own post-space shuttle

Lu told the youngsters that while he was speaking to them from NA1SS, he was floating--and relaxing--about a foot above the floor and about to have a lunch of lamb, a chicken omelet and cookies for dessert. "I like the food up here a lot," he remarked later. Most of the current cuisine
is Russian, he said, but he anticipated some Chinese and Hawaiian fare to arrive aboard the next Progress supply rocket. The ISS crew typically eats three meals a day, he said.

The lack of gravity does make it necessary to secure everything, including eating utensils, so they don't float off. Another downside of zero G is that the astronauts aboard the ISS must exercise regularly. "If you don't exercise, all of your muscles get smaller, and that includes your
heart," he explained in response to one boy's question.

In all, Lu answered about a dozen questions, although apparent signal dropout and noise plagued the last minute or two of the QSO, rendering his replies barely intelligible. Lu advised the youngsters that, while expertise in science and math was most important to becoming an astronaut,
skills and specialties vary among those in the Astronaut Corps. "The common thing among all of them is that all of them did pretty well at whatever it was they chose to do," he said.

With the ISS was over Hawaii at the time, radio contact with NA1SS was established via Nancy Rocheleau, WH6PN, in Honolulu, who arose before 3 AM to serve as control operator for the QSO. An MCI teleconferencing circuit linked the school with WH6PN. ARISS is an international program with participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.
[Info from ARRL]


Ham Radio in Space: Two-Man Expedition 7 Ham Radio Crew Arrives at ISS

A two-ham Expedition 7 crew arrived at the International Space Station on April 28th to replace the crew currently on board.
Two men, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP and astronaut Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, have arrived -- the first team ever to get to the ISS aboard a Russian spacecraft. They replace 3 men: Commander Ken Bowersox, KD5JBP, Don Pettit, KD5MDT, and Nikolai Budarin, RV3FB. That team flew back to earth on the third of May.
[ANS thanks Roy Neal, K6DUE Amateur Radio Newsline, for the above information]

Computer Glitch Eyed in Soyuz's Wild Ride Home

STAR CITY, Russia (AP) -- A computer error is suspected of sending three spacemen on a wild ride home that was so steep and forceful their tongues rolled back in their mouths and they could hardly breathe.
Then antenna problems blocked their ability to announce a safe arrival, albeit one that was far short of the targeted touchdown site. Even so, the two astronauts and one cosmonaut who returned to Earth Sunday from the international space station were in good spirits Tuesday as they talked about their adventure.
American Donald Pettit, the sickest and weakest upon return, didn't mind having a few more hours alone with his crewmates after 161 days together in orbit. He had been warned about the "mob scene" and "hustle and bustle" awaiting him in Kazakhstan, what with all the recovery helicopters!
"I was actually relieved to ooze out of the spacecraft and lay on Mother Earth and have a solitude moment in which to get reacquainted," Pettit said, reflecting on his historic yet harrowing ride. They had landed nearly 300 miles off-course.
[ANS thanks for the above information]

Sun Movie

On May 7th German astronomers witnessed something remarkable: a spacecraft and a planet crossing the face of the Sun at the same time. The planet was Mercury. The spacecraft was the International Space Station.
Visit to view a movie of this unprecedented [sic]double solar transit.
[ANS thanks for the above information]

PCsat Update

Bob Bruinga, WB4APR, reports that, "PCsat is back to eclipses but is holding fine and supporting about 50 users per 8 hour evening period (see" Bob reports that he has cut the TXD in half from 30 to 15 and it seems to work fine for his receive set up while at the same time saving about 10% of transmit power."

If anyone notices any problems please let Bob know. He can be reached at [email protected]. He also notes, "Mid northern latitudes are seeing evening prime-time passes".

[ANS thanks Bob, WB4APR, for the above information]

April 17, 2003

Al Feinberg/Melissa Motichek
Headquarters, Washington
Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston


Television has extensive coverage planned for the launch and arrival of the Expedition 7 crew to the International Space Station. NASA TV will also carry the first landing of U.S. astronauts in a Russian spacecraft, when the Expedition 6 crew returns after more than five months in space.
Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer / NASA Space Station Science Officer Ed Lu are scheduled for launch at approximately 11:50 p.m. EDT, April 25 aboard a Russian Soyuz TMA-2 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. On May 4, the Expedition 6 crew will return to Earth in the Soyuz TMA-1 craft, currently docked to the Station, landing in Kazakhstan completing their more than five-month mission.
Coverage on NASA TV includes:
* Replay of Expedition 7 news conference, Star City, Russia, 9:00 a.m. EDT, April 18 * B-roll video, Expedition 7 crew pre-launch preparations, Baikonur, 12:00 p.m. EDT, April 23-25 * Replay of final pre-launch news conference, Expedition 7 crew, Baikonur, 9:00 a.m. EDT, April 25 * Live Expedition 7 launch coverage and commentary from the Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Baikonur beginning 11:00 p.m. EDT, April 25 * Live Expedition 7 docking coverage and commentary from the Mission Control Center in Korolev, Russia, beginning 1:00 a.m. EDT, April 28 * Joint Expedition 6/7 crew news conference from orbit at approximately 11:28 a.m. EDT, April 29. There will be limited question and answer capability at NASA centers, as less than 20 minutes is available for the news conference. * Live Expedition 6 landing coverage and commentary begins at 2 p.m. EDT, May 3 with the Space Station change of command ceremony * Live undocking coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. EDT, May 3; followed at approximately 8:30 p.m. EDT with deorbit burn and landing coverage * There will be live landing commentary, but no live TV coverage, from JSC and Kazakhstan, for the Expedition 6 landing * Video B-roll of post-landing activities, crewmembers' return to their training center in Star City, Russia, and crew/family reunions will be broadcast May 4, when available
NASA TV is broadcast on AMC-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees west longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 MHz, and audio of 6.8 MHz.
Via the sarex mailing list at AMSAT.ORG courtesy of AMSAT-NA. To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe sarex" to [email protected]

Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

"Arthur N1ORC found this useful document regarding the upcoming  Expedition Seven. You can read this PDF file directly from

            Shuttle Columbia's Flight Data Recorder Found

Columbia accident investigators found a key flight data recorder Wednesday near Hemphill, Texas. The device could shed new light on what was happening to the spacecraft before it disintegrated over east Texas on Feb. 1. Seven astronauts, three of them amateur radio operators were lost in the accident.
About the size of a bread box, the instrument uses magnetic tape to record data such as temperatures, pressures, vibrations, acceleration, electrical currents and strains on the vehicle. The recorder was recovered intact and taken to Johnson Space Center, where it must be cleaned up before determining how to get to the data without damaging it.
The recorder starts up about 10 minutes before the shuttle reaches the first traces of the upper atmosphere. Investigators believe it would have continued to run until the vehicle broke up.
To date, investigators have been forced to rely on telemetry data beamed back from the shuttle, video and photographs in attempt to piece together what destroyed the Columbia.
That information has helped NASA build a timeline of events as the orbiter crossed the southwestern United States on way to a planned landing at Kennedy Space Center..
[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

NASA Ham-Astronaut Among Those Meeting with "Future Explorers"

NASA astronauts and educators are traveling the nation, meeting face-to-face with future space explorers -- both teachers and students. Astronauts Barbara Morgan, KD5VNP; Leland Melvin; and educator astronaut co-manager Debbie Brown are visiting schools, museums, and teacher conferences in New York, California, Texas, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Idaho during March and April. Their goal is to reach out to discuss student and teacher involvement in the nation's space program. Nearly 6000 students, family members, and friends have nominated their teachers to become permanent members of NASA's Astronaut Corps. One Michigan student nominated his teacher saying, "He makes me want to come to school every day." The application deadline for the Educator Astronaut Program is April 30, 2003. For event locations and dates, contact Gretchen Cook-Anderson, 202-358-0836. To learn more about the Educator Astronaut Program and other NASA education activities, visit the NASA Web site at
[ANS thanks ARRL for the above information.]

Persistence Makes Perfect for Space Station QSO

Persistence paid off March 11 when students at Eugene Field School in Park Ridge, Illinois, finally got to quiz astronaut Don Pettit, KD5MDT, about life aboard the International Space Station. One earlier effort failed when the earth station and NA1SS ended up on different 2-meter frequencies due to a communication breakdown. The contact, arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, also was postponed several times because of schedule conflicts.
Pettit answered 19 questions put to him by the students. One topic discussed was Pettit's interest and research into thin films of water, which, he said, look much like soap bubbles in space. He also described how a tin of food that would normally float off the table while he was eating would stay in place if he applied a small drop of water to the tin's bottom. Pettit explained that the surface tension of the water will keep the container from floating off.
Students expressed their delight with a round of applause at the contact's completion. Audio of the contact was distributed to five other elementary schools and two middle schools in the suburban Chicago school district. Several local TV and radio affiliates showed up to record the contact and interview the students afterwards.
"This was special for everyone here," said Tony Clishem, a curriculum coordinator at one of the schools listening in on the contact.
Eugene Field School counts among its alumni former First Lady and now US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and actor Harrison Ford. The school has 600 students in kindergarten through grade 5.
The contact was handled via W6SRJ at Santa Rosa Junior College in California. Earth station operators were Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, Herb Sullivan, K6QXB, and Don Dalby, KE6UAY. Two-way audio was handled via a WorldCom teleconferencing circuit. Tim Bosma, W6ISS, moderated the ARISS QSO.
ARISS is an international project with participation by ARRL, NASA and AMSAT. For more information, visit the ARISS Web site at
[ANS thanks ARRL for the above information.]

Spring Satellites and Spaghetti

The Indian River Amateur Radio Club (IRAC) is pleased to announce that our third Spring, Satellites & Spaghetti day will be held on 29 March 2003. Our objective is to give operators an opportunity to try their hands at satellite operating and introduce them to the world of amateur satellites. We will be using the club callsign, W4NLX, but you may also hear members using their own callsigns as well. The event is not restricted to club members and anyone who would like to learn about amateur satellites is welcome to attend. We are planning to be active on as many of the FM and SSB LEO satellites as possible. The park opens at 1200z and we expect to be operating until around 2100z.
Event: Spring, Satellites & Spaghetti III
Location: Kiwanas Island Park, Merritt Island, Florida
Grid - EL98qi
Date: Saturday, 29 March 2003
Time: ~1200-2100 UTC
Modes: FM and SSB LEO satellites
[ANS thanks Lee, KU4OS, for the above information.]

            AO-27 Update:

New software has been uploaded successfully to AO-27. The new commands are working great and ON-ORBIT checkout is continuing. During the upcomming week control operators will be checking out the new scheduler and fine tuning the scheduler parameters. We will be turning on the Analogue Repeater from time to time during this checkout period when we don't need to collect telmetry. If all continues to go well, we will be able to turn AO-27 back to Normal, self scheduled operations in a few weeks.

Thanks goes out to N1UC and W4XP for their tremendous effort in getting this new software up to the bird.


            First Mars Exploration Rover Arrives At Cape For May Launch

The first of two Mars Exploration Rovers, MER-2 arrived at the Kennedy Space Center today from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The cruise stage, aeroshell and lander for the Mars Exploration Rover-1 mission also arrived today. This same flight hardware for the MER-2 rover arrived January 27, however this rover is scheduled to arrive at KSC around March 10.
The Boeing Delta II vehicle for the first launch of the two launches scheduled on May 25 is planned for erection on the pad at Space Launch Complex 17 beginning April 18. The Delta for the second launch on June 30 will begin erection activities on May 1. Each spacecraft will receive a MER-A or MER-B designation once they arrive at the pad.
While at KSC, each of the two rovers, the aeroshells and the landers will undergo a full mission simulation. All of these flight elements will then be integrated together.
After spin balance testing, each spacecraft will be mated to a solid propellant upper stage booster that will propel the spacecraft out of Earth orbit. Approximately ten days before launch they will be transported to the launch pad for mating with their respective Boeing Delta II rockets.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]


                         ARRL  LETTER #09


The all-ham crew aboard the International Space Station will return to Earth in early May via the Russian Soyuz escape vehicle. Appearing before the US House Science Committee February 27, NASA Chief Sean O'Keefe said that the 16 ISS partner countries have agreed to use the Russian capsule to ferry a new two-person crew to the station--one American and one
Russian--and to bring the current three-man crew home. The shuttle fleet remains grounded in the wake of the Columbia tragedy.

"There are no threats to the ISS or its crew in the near term, and we are working options to be able to sustain both over the long term," O'Keefe said in remarks prepared for delivery to the lawmakers. O'Keefe noted that the ISS would run short of potable water by June and that the Soyuz 5S vehicle now attached to the ISS will reach its lifetime limit in late April or early May and need to be returned. The fresh crew would remain in space until October, when a new crew would be sent up.

Additional unmanned Russian Progress cargo rocket flights will be scheduled to keep the ISS supplied--the next arriving shortly after the new crew in June. That Russian Progress supply mission will carry enough food, water, fuel and other provisions to sustain the two-person crew in space at least through October.

The implications of a two-person crew on the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program are not yet fully clear. A successful ARISS school contact with Hochwald Gymnasium in Wadern, Germany, was completed via DL0WR on February 27.

"Things continue to be very dynamic as the Columbia accident investigation unfolds," ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said February 27 in reaction to O'Keefe's announcement. "Despite the reduction in crewsize, the ARISS team has been told that we will continue to perform one to two ARISS school group contacts a week." Bauer said since less scientific work will happen while the shuttle program is on hold, opportunities for school contacts will remain the same.

Crew member Don Pettit, KD5MDT, also was reported on the air this week seeking random contacts from NA1SS. Stan Vandiver, W4SV, in Indiana, reports he worked NA1SS February 27, but added that he'd heard that Pettit has been on the air on other occasions as well. The ISS downlink frequency is 145.800 MHz.

But the substitution of the Russian Progress rockets for the shuttle as a transportation system between Earth and the ISS will strictly limit the amount and type of supplies and equipment carried to the space station.
The priorities will be food and water. This means that the ARISS hardware--including SSTV and all-mode HF/VHF/UHF gear that was planned to be flown this year--probably will be delayed, Bauer said.

O'Keefe meanwhile said that the ISS partnership was "committed to maintaining crew on-orbit." He told the House Science Committee that the new, two-person crew was training on Soyuz systems at Russia's Star City cosmonaut training center.

Now onboard the ISS are Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox, KD5JBP, NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit, KD5MDT, and Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin, RV3FB. The crew this week resumed a full schedule of maintenance
and research work on the space outpost. The Expedition 6 team will mark 100 days in orbit on March 3.

NASA has not yet revealed who the two new ISS crew members will be. Originally set to replace the current crew next month was the Expedition 7 team of Commander Yuri Malenchenko, ISS Science Officer Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri, U8MIR. The back-up Expedition 7 crew member is Mike Foale, KB5UAC. All four are now training in Russia.

Bauer said he considers the option to fly Lu and Malenchenko on Expedition 7 "the highest probable scenario, in my opinion. But is not definite yet." Pedro Duque, KC5RGG, who planned to use the ARISS equipment on the upcoming Soyuz flight, will probably fly in the fall, Bauer speculated.

Malenchenko and Lu have worked together in space before. During a shuttle Atlantis mission in 2000, the Russian and the American conducted a more-than-six-hour space walk to install equipment on the then-unoccupied ISS. That same shuttle flight also delivered the initial ARISS VHF and UHF hand-held transceivers, a packet TNC and other ham gear.

Information from ARRL "Feb. 28. 2003. Letter #9

Don Pettit Talks With German School In Saarland


Thursday 27 February 2003 at 10:21 UTC, i.e. 11:21 local time, the Hochwald Gymnasium (Highschool) Wadern DL0WR in Saarland, Germany, performed a radio contact with US astronaut Donald Pettit, KD5MDT, Science Officer on board the International Space Station.
A few months ago, 16 students of the Hochwald Gymnasium Wadern decided to start an extraordinary performance: they prepared for the amateur radio exam.
Michael Kraus, DF3VM, the training teacher of the students did a great job: all 16 girls and boys became radio amateurs with their own callsign, and their first ham activity should be a contact to NA1SS. A dream became true.
Hubert Schaefer, DJ8VH, a responsible of the local amateur radio Club DARC-OV Wadern supported the youngsters with the preparation of the technical equipment.
He did also a very good job and set up the special satellite station in a professional way.
The students, the technical team, the principal of the school, Mr. Wagner, the teachers and the mass media gathered this morning and waited for the contact. The ISS called them exactly at the predicted time of AOS. During the contact the sound quality was very goog, just few times a minimum of noise. The girls and boys were interested in technical matters, problems of physics in space, but also in the social habits on board the Space Station. The contact was perfectly timed, the LOS came after the farewell words of the training teacher, during the applause of the audience.
2 TV stations (Saarlaendische Rundfunk, Saar-TV), 2 radio stations (Radio RPR, Radio Salut) and 2 newspapers (Saarbruecker Zeitung) covered the event.
Most significant is that the ARISS contact gave birth to 16 new members of the amateur radio community.
A superb illustration of the education power of the ARISS school contacts!

(Thanks to Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ, ARISS Mentor)
Info from ARISS Web page: Thank you

                    NASA Recruiting Teachers for Future Missions

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says that recruitment is currently underway for the Educator Astronaut Program. Applicants must be teachers who are U.S. citizens, certified to instruct kindergarten through 12th grade with a minimum three years in-classroom teaching experience within the past four years. They must also hold at least a bachelor's degree in physical science, biological science, engineering or mathematics, or an education degree with a concentration in physical science, biological science, engineering or mathematics. An amateur radio license is not required. Applications are being accepted through April 30th. More information and the application package is available at

[ANS thanks Amateur Radio Newsline for the above information.]

                  New Birds on the Horizon

                  There are two new AMSAT Satellites in the works, Projects Eagle and Project Echo.

Project Echo or AO-E is a LEO “low Earth orbit” bird.  It will have Analog operation including FM Voice. 
Current Echo design offers the following features:
•    Uplinks will be on 2 meters with downlinks on 70cm.  Similar to UO-14 and AO-27. This is promising news for hams who currently enjoy the OSCAR 14 and 27 FM- repeater satellites.
•    Digital operation including highspeed APRS.
•    High downlink power (up to 12 W, which is a tremendous asset compared to previous amateur LEO’s).
•    Multiple channels using four receivers and two transmitters.
•    Simultaneous voice/data capability. Echo will be more than a loud FM repeater in space. Its digital functions will be among the most advanced ever incorporated into an Amateur Radio satellite.  Echo will feature a wideband TDMA single-frequency data link for multiple simultaneous users and modes.  The uplink for this will be on 1.2GHz with the downlink on 2.4GHz.
Unlike older microsat technology, Echo will be designed to be as autonomous and self-healing as possible. 
AMSAT-NA has partnered with an outside contractor, SpaceQuest, who will assist in building the satellite bus.  AMSAT volunteers are responsible for the design, development, integration and testing of the various experimental payloads.
Echo is moving rapidly toward a possible launch this year or in 2004.

The second satellite, Project Eagle, will be the successor to AMSAT-OSCAR 40.  Eagle will travel in an elliptical orbit that will bring it within a few hundred miles at perigee, and as much as 40,000 miles or more at apogee.
The current design calls for transponders with uplink/downlink combinations that include 145MHz, 435MHz, 1.2GHz and 2.4GHz.  Eagle’s design is in flux and won’t be “frozen” until late this year.  Here are some key specifications.
•    Mass: 100kg or less
•    Size: 600-mm cube with fixed and deployable solar panels
•    Attitude: Spin stabilized
•    High-gain Antennas: 145MHz, 435MHz, 1.2GHz, 2.4GHz, 5.6GHz and 10GHz
•    Omni Antennas: 145MHz, 435MHz
Current estimates are that Eagle may reach orbit in 2006

See (March 2003) QST for full story

“Thank you AMSAT-NA and QST for the info”

Volunteers with design experience in a
number of areas needed
If you can give your time, money or both, contact the AMSAT-NA offices.
Go to the AMSAT president’s Club page on the Web at
or call


                       Satellite History:    Part 3

    Every few years the amateur satellite community is faced with the question “Where do we go from here?” Do we continue to update the current Phase 2 and Phase 3 spacecraft, do we focus efforts and resources on the original Phase 4 plan or a simplified Phase 4 strategy, or should we start thinking in terms of constellations of spacecraft?
    Our ability to maintain a successful amateur satellite program depends on the answer.  Such a program must satisfy four critical needs—obtaining (1) volunteer technical and administrative workers, (2) launches, (3) RF spectrum access and (4) financing.

    There are a number of organizations around the world whose primary purpose is to support amateur satellite construction and operation.  They may differ in primary language, size and focus, but, all are joined together in the goal of placing spacecraft in orbit for the use of radio amateurs worldwide.  One of the early such groups was AMSAT, The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation.  When other like-minded groups around the world began to organize, many adopted the AMSAT name and the original AMSAT became know as AMSAT North America, AMSAT-NA.  Most of these groups focus on one or more of the following activities: satellite construction, information dissemination to users, fund raising, and supporting on-the-air activities.  Also included are the monitoring and defending the legal and regulatory position of the Amateur Satellite Service.  This occurs with respect to issues such as frequency allocations, antenna restrictions, bio-hazard concerns, and publicizing the benefits of the Amateur Satellite Service and educational Amateur Radio activities to the nations concerned.  Everyone who’s active on the satellites should actively support at least one of these organizations.  Because the organizations focus on different aspects of the amateur satellite program, it’s common for satellite users to belong to several.
    To date, there are over 20 satellites and manned spacecraft in orbit offering radio amateurs access to a variety of analog and digital modes employing frequencies from HF to microwave.  If you’re considering taking up satellite communications your first question has to be—“Where do I start?”  Since everyone has different interests and equipment there is clearly not going to be a single answer.
    Before you commit to setting up a ground station for satellite communications you should give some serious thought to whether satellite operation is really for you.  As with HF Dxing, contesting and becoming a brain surgeon, success at space communications requires a serious investment of time, effort and often cash.  However, the result may be worth the effort.  Many old-time HF operators report that their first satellite QSO rates a special place in memory right up there with their premier HF contact.  An impressive number of first-class HF Dxers, tired of the rat race, have found a new home on the birds.
    With more than 18,000 amateurs currently participation in the Amateur Satellite Service it shouldn’t be too difficult to locate a few local hams who have had some experience with space communications.  Ask them how they feel about it.  Some will probably see satellites as the most exciting new dimension of Amateur Radio since the discovery, back in the early ‘20s, that “useless” shortwaves could propagate across the Atlantic.  Others may firmly believe that satellite relays are as exciting as the telephone.  Talk to advocates of both viewpoints.  If at all possible, visit an active satellite user during a pass.  Observing a ground station in operation first-hand is the best way to get a feel for what’s involved.  If the bug still has you in its clutches at this point, you may as well give in and start making plans to set up your own ground station.

    I personally, would like to extend, to all, an open invitation to stop in and work the birds and see what Satellite communications has to offer you.

This information was obtained from the ARRL’s “The Radio Amateur’s Satellite Handbook”.


The relative motion between you and the satellite causes Doppler shifting of signals. As the satellite moves toward you, the frequency of the downlink signals will increase as the velocity of the satellite adds to the velocity of the transmitted signal. As the satellite passes overhead and starts to move away from you, the frequency will drop, much the same way as the tone of a car horn or a train whistle drops as the vehicle moves past the observer.

The Doppler effect is different for stations located at different distances from the satellite because the relative velocity of the satellite with respect to the observer is dependent on the observer’s distance from the satellite. The result is that signals passing through the satellite transponder shift slowly around the published downlink frequency. Your job is to tune your uplink transmitter–not your receiver– to compensate for Doppler shifting and keep your frequency relatively stable on the downlink.

 That’s why it is helpful to hear your own signal coming through the satellite. If you and the station you’re talking to both compensate correctly, your conversation will stay at one frequency on the downlink throughout the pass. If you don’t compensate, your signals will drift through the downlink passband as you attempt to “follow” each other. This is highly annoying to others using the satellite because your drifting signals may drift into their conversations.

The old rule was to “Keep the lower frequency fixed”, but in today’s world there are not many shacks that are not equipped with a pc. Tracking software, available as shareware or free downloads for amateur use, have the capability to also track Doppler shift. With these programs and is also possible, with practice, to use “Full Doppler Compensation”, when using a linear transponder.

 Full Doppler compensation is the tuning of both the transmitter and receiver frequencies so that uplink and downlink seen at the satellite are constant. This keeps each user at a fixed location in the transponder passband and places all stations involved in a QSO at the same fixed frequency in the passband.

My experience has seen the tuning of the receive frequency more so than the transmitted frequency. I have personally learned to tune both the receive and the transmitted frequency in a short time with relatively good success. Most FM rigs today tune in steps of 5kHz and other than the slight fading of signal, through the 5kHz, staying on frequency is manageable.
             SPIN MODULATION
Since a satellite antenna and its gain pattern are firmly anchored to the spacecraft, a ground station’s position relative to the pattern will change moment by moment. As we’ve noted, both the polarization and gain of an antenna vary with the observer’s location. A ground station will therefore see gain and polarization changes on a downlink signal resulting from satellite rotation. These changes are called spin modulation. The spin modulation frequency depends on the spacecraft’s rotation which, in turn, depends on the attitude stabilization technique employed. Spin modulation at 0.01 Hz sounds much like a slow fade.  Its effect on intelligibility is minor unless the signal drops below the noise level.    

When a ground station is located on the fringes of the satellite’s antenna pattern, it may observe gain variations that exceed 10dB. To a user, spin modulation at a frequency of 1 Hz resembles rapid airplane flutter. It can be very annoying and have a severe impact on intelligibility.
Spin modulation is mainly of concern with spin-stabilized spacecraft of the type used with early Phase 3 elliptical orbits. Even with these spacecraft the effects become annoying only when the ground station was looking at the spacecraft from off to its side (large squint angle). A ground station can’t do much to alleviate true gain variations due to asymmetries in the satellite’s antenna gain pattern, but variations caused by polarization mismatch can be minimized by using a circularly polarized antenna.

Squint angle– Angle between aiming direction of satellite antenna and line between satellite and your ground station. Angle is zero when satellite antenna is pointed directly at your ground station.

                FARADAY ROTATION
As a linearly polarized radio wave passes through the ionosphere, the direction of the electric field rotates slowly about the direction of propagation. This rotation, known as the Faraday effect , Depends on the frequency of the radio wave, the strength and orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field over the path, and the number of electrons encountered. It is most noticeable at lower frequencies, such as 29 MHz and 146 MHz. Its effects can be observed by ground staions that use linearly polarized antennas; slow fades will occur as the angle between the linear component of the incoming wave and the ground station antenna changes during a pass. The use of Circular polarized antenna at the ground station wold eliminate these effects, but can be tolerated with what your using right now.

Your questions can be answered by contacting me at: [email protected]

AmSat web pages at:,


                     Working your first Amateur Satellite!

It is a common perception that it requires sophisticated equipment and large circularly polarised antenna arrays to work amateur satellites. While this may be true for using some of the high altitude ‘‘birds’’ or on the higher bands such as 23cm, it isn’’t the case for all satellites. There are several low Earth orbiting satellites which can be worked with relatively simple transceivers and antennas. This article will concentrate on voice operation, as I have no experience at all with digital satellite operation.
Amateur voice satellites can be divided broadly into two groups. Firstly, there are the traditional "linear transponder" satellites. These satellites receive a specific range of frequencies (typically 40 - 100 kHz) in one band, convert them to another band using a mixing process similar to that used in a superheterodyne receiver and amplify the converted signal for transmission back to Earth. Linear transponders are capable of relaying several different signals simultaneously. More recently, some satellites have been carrying crossband FM repeaters instead of linear transponders. These repeaters are similar to their familiar terrestrial cousins in that they receive an FM signal on a specific channel, demodulate the signal and retransmit the signal on a new frequency. Unlike linear transponders, but like conventional FM repeaters, these satellites can only carry one QSO at a time. Most amateur voice satellites use linear transponders (there is only one known orbiting FM repeater accessible in VK at the time of writing).
To successfully work an amateur satellite, you need to have transceivers suitable for the satellites you wish to work. For linear transponders, SSB and CW transceivers on the bands of interest are required. For the FM repeaters, either a dual band FM transceiver with crossband transmit/receive capabilities or separate 2m and 70cm FM transceivers are suitable. A related issue is which bands to use. FM users don’’t have much choice. All of the FM satellites (operational or proposed) use 2m and 70cm, with one of these bands being used for the uplink, the other for the downlink. There are a wider variety of frequencies in use by linear transponder satellites. The suggested bands to try for a first attempt are 2 metres uplink and 10 metres downlink. If you have 2 HF transceivers, it might be worth trying the 10m/15m satellites as well.
For antennas, an existing HF dipole and VHF/UHF omnidirectional antennas will work in a pinch. The typical VHF/UHF collinears typically have a low angle of radiation, and better results may be obtained with a simple ¼¼ wave groundplane, or for the more serious, a turnstile antenna. If you have crossed Yagis and AZ/EL rotators, all the better (but then this article isn’’t aimed at you in this case! :-) ). Finally, though not essential, it is very strongly recommended to have a computer, satellite tracking software and an Internet connection available. The Internet connection is for downloading the latest Keplerian elements for the tracking software (and the software itself if you don’’t have any), as well as checking satellite home pages for transponder schedules and other information. Besides, the Internet is fun when the birds aren’’t overhead!
Working your first satellite! This isn’’t anywhere near as daunting as it sounds. The first thing is to have a look around your shack and see what equipment you have. If, like many amateurs, you have FM only radios on VHF/UHF, then you are limited to the FM satellites. Those lucky ones with all mode transceivers can also try their hand at the linear transponders. The rest of this article will concentrate on FM operation as nearly everyone has FM gear for 2m and 70cm, and the operating techniques are easier to master. If SSB or CW satellite operation interests you, it’’s a natural progression to move on from FM. For those interested in exploring SSB/CW operation via linear transponders on satellites, there is are several excellent introductory articles on AMSAT's web site.
First, time for an inventory, as the gear you have available will partially determine the satellite to use. As the satellite bands are outside the Novice voice segments, Novice operators will need to upgrade to a Limited, Intermediate or Full call, if they aspire to working satellites. At the time of writing, which satellite to work is an easy choice, as there is only one FM satellite available, namely the South African SUNSAT (OSCAR-35). This satellite is capable of transmitting 10 watts on either 2m or 70cm, and is usually configured to uplink on 70cm and downlink on 2m. Because of the high transponder power and relatively low orbit (650-850 km altitude during passes over VK), handheld transceivers are sufficient and will give good results. Regardless of the rig you use, it has to be capable of tuning in 5 kHz or smaller steps, to enable you to follow the Doppler shift as the satellite passes overhead. As an example of what SUNSAT is capable of, I have worked SUNSAT from within a moving tram, using a pair of handheld transceivers! However, replacing the standard rubber duck antennas with high performance whips is strongly recommended. Home operators will most likely use their existing omnidirectional or beam antennas. Modern omnis tend to have a very low angle of radiation and therefore may not give good results when used to work satellites. However, as most modern rigs put out 35-50 watts on 70cm, the extra power should largely compensate for the antenna’’s radiation pattern. If you can use a ¼¼ wave or turnstile though, then you’’ll enjoy better satellite performance. If you have a beam, you will need to track the satellite as it passes, especially at low angles, where the beam’’s gain will be useful. And finally, don’’t forget an earpiece or headphones. You will be operating full duplex (i.e. being able to transmit and receive simultaneously) and without headphones, feedback can be a problem. With them, you’’ll be able to hear what you sound like while you transmit, which will be helpful for correcting for Doppler shift.
During your preparation, log onto the Internet and check the SUNSAT page at (click on the Amateur Radio link for the skeds), to find out when the transponder is scheduled to be active over Australia and the frequencies that will be used. (usually 436.291 MHz up and 145.825 MHz down) The times given on the SUNSAT page are the actual switch on and switch off times for the transponder. The satellite may not be visible in your area for all of this time. If you have tracking software, download the latest Keps while you’’re online and run a simulation of the pass. The software will allow you to know where the satellite will be at any given point in time, the maximum elevation of the pass and the exact times it will be visible, and often, the amount of Doppler shift that will be present. If you’’re using minimum equipment (e.g. a handheld with a rubber duck), are in difficult terrain or are going to be working the satellite from a difficult situation (e.g. while on a train or tram), this information can be crucial to your success.
Also important to know is the amount of Doppler shift that will be present on the uplink and downlink frequency. Doppler shift is a phenomenon that all of us will recognise in a different situation. Imagine you're waiting at a railway crossing. A train passes at high speed, blowing its horn. As the train passes you, the pitch of the horn appears lower than when it was approaching. That apparent shift in frequency is Doppler shifting caused by the relative speed of the train to you shortening, then later lengthening the wavelength of the sound as seen by the observer. On board the train, the pitch of the horn does not alter, but the pitch of the bells at the crossing does. When a satellite passes overhead, the transmitted and received signals are affected in a similar way. With the satellite passing at 27,000 km/h or more, a signal at 436 MHz can be shifted by up to 10 kHz from its actual transmitted frequency. Some satellites are designed with this in mind, and have AFC (Automatic Frequency Control) circuits to partially compensate for Doppler shift. Doppler shift is only significant for FM satellites on 70cm or higher bands. On 2m, the 3 kHz Doppler shift can usually be accommodated by an ordinary FM receiver, provided it's on the correct frequency. Here's some more information on Doppler shift for those interested.
As the satellite approaches, you should be listening to the downlink frequency, with the uplink ready to transmit when needed. Remember to allow for any Doppler shift (for FM, it will only be significant on 70cm –– around 5-10 kHz). If the uplink is on 70cm (usually the case for SUNSAT), tune 5-10 kHz below the nominal uplink frequency (the Doppler shift will make it arrive at the satellite on the correct frequency). If the downlink is on 70cm, you’’ll have to tune the 70cm receiver 5-10 kHz above the nominal frequency. SUNSAT’’s transponder usually sends over a minute of data or a voice preamble before it’’s available for use. While this may be a waste of time, this minute is also useful for signal checks and fine tuning your position if you’’re portable. When the data ceases, you’’ll hear FM receiver noise from the satellite. At this time, the satellite is ready for use, and you can put out a call. While calling, pay attention to your signal as heard on the downlink. Too much noise may indicate a need to move the uplink antenna, increase power or adjust frequency to compensate for Doppler shift. If you can’’t hear the downlink at all, don’’t attempt to transmit, as you may interfere with someone else. Also, keep things short while using the satellite. Only one person can use the transponder at a time and the satellite is usually only accessible for about 10 minutes. Others will appreciate your efficiency and courtesy. Most FM satellite contacts are usually an exchange of callsigns, signal reports and occasionally a comment about the weather.
As the satellite passes, you will need to make occasional adjustments to the 70cm frequency as the Doppler shift changes, so that by the end of the pass, you’’ll be transmitting 5-10 kHz above (or receiving 5-10 kHz below, if 70cm is the downlink) the nominal frequency. From experience, the distortion caused by being off frequency isn’’t so noticeable, but it is much more difficult to access the transponder when more than 5 kHz off the correct frequency (SUNSAT is capable of correctly receiving signals up to 9 kHz off the uplink frequency, so the tolerance is pretty broad). Some tracking software is capable of telling you the exact amount of Doppler shift present at any given time as the satellite passes, provided you tell the software the uplink frequency (read the manual on how to do this). Once the satellite has passed, you can relax and plan your next attempt.
A quick run down on the results that are possible with SUNSAT. I have only ever used handheld transceivers to work this 'bird'. The typical station is:
     Uplink - Icom IC-T81A handheld running 3.5 watts into a 70cm 1/2 wave ground independent handheld whip.
     Downlink - Alinco DJ-500T handheld or Standard C58 all mode portable with a "ScanDucky" scanning antenna (roughly equivalent to a 1/4 wave on 2m).
     Station monitor (for recording the passes) - Icom IC-R1 handheld scanner or Standard C58 with a Diamond V2000 triband vertical or a 2m 1/2 wave aligned to the satellite pass. This sits in the shack and feeds audio to a PC running audio recording software.
As you can see, this isn't a particularly sophisticated setup and is very portable. However, it is also capable of very good results with SUNSAT. With the above gear, I am able to work SUNSAT from a good outdoor location at up to 3000 km range (which is practically on the horizon). The above station is also capable of working SUNSAT from a train at up to 2000 km range or up to 1500km from a tram (the tram range is limited by downlink noise, not uplink power). Due to the flexibility of antenna alignment possible with a portable station, this setup often equals the performance of base or mobile stations running up to 10 times the power into a vertical antenna.
The most exciting part of satellite operation is the anticipation of the pass as the time approaches and the fast pace of operation, not unlike during a contest but with more order. It’’s a bit like a brief band opening on VHF/UHF, except that unlike ducting or sporadic E, satellite openings can be predicted to the second. With the advent of orbiting FM repeaters, it is now possible to enjoy the excitement of satellite operation without paying the earth in hardware (Almost any VHF/UHF operator already owns the necessary gear). However, a word of warning: For some people, the thrill of satellite operation can be addictive! You may find yourself trying unusual situations, or decide to invest in multimode gear and work some of the linear 'birds' that are up there. You have been warned! (and I have the audio clips and 2m all mode box to prove this theory!) :-)

Thank you Tony/ VK3JED, for this information.

                     Satellite History:  PART 1

    It was October 5, 1957.  Shortly after midnight (GMT), at a BBC radio monitoring station located at Tatsfield (just south of London), attention was focused on a strange signal–frequency measurements revealed a slow downward drift having an unusual pattern, and direction finding reports couldn’t be reconciled with a terrestrial or airborne source.  After eliminating every other conceivable possibility the staff was forced to conclude that the signal was coming from an artificial satellite orbiting the Earth.  The Space Age had begun.

    Since the Soviets had been discussing their plans publicly for some time the surprise was mainly due to widespread disbelief in the West that the USSR was capable of such a sophisticated technological feat.  The Soviet news agency, TASS, announced to the world, the  launch of Sputnik 1 had indeed occurred at 19:28:04 GMT on October 4, 1957 from Tyuratam, a village about 150 miles northeast of the Sea of Aral in the USSR. 

    The first successful United States launch took place four months later on January 31, 1958.  The spacecraft, Explorer 1, contained a scientific instrument package for measuring radiation levels in space designed by a group of physicists under the direction of Dr. James Van Allen of the University of Iowa. 

    Radio amateur interest in signals from space began long before Sputnik 1.  During the late ‘30s and early ‘40s Dr. Grote Reber (W9GFZ) prepared a series of comprehensive radio sky maps using a homebuilt 32-foot diameter parabolic antenna set up in his Wheaton, Illinois, backyard.  These maps, showing the location of radio noise sources across the sky, led to the birth of a new branch of basic science now known as radio astronomy. 

    In April 1959, Don Stoner (W6TNS), a widely known and well-respected electronics experimenter, wrote in CQ: “Currently being tested is a solar powered six- to two-meter transistor repeater which could be ballooned over the Southwest.  Can anyone come up with a spare rocket for orbiting purposes?”  At a point in time when the major governments of the world had only reached the stage of placing beacons in orbit, Stoner was proposing that hams attempt the far more difficult task of building a spacecraft containing a transponder capable of supporting two-way communication.  When his proposal was made, construction of the first government/commercial satellite to use a transponder (Telstar 1, launched July 1962) hadn’t even begun, FM repeaters were virtually unknown in the Amateur Radio community, and most radio amateurs had never had their hands on those newfangled devices called transistors.  Although some labeled Stoner’s goal science fantasy the proposal was serious and his note provided the spark that led, not many years later, to radio amateurs placing an operational, active relay satellite in orbit. 

    In 1960, their imaginations fired by the Stoner article, several radio amateurs in Sunnyvale, California, organized the OSCAR Association (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio). The aim of this pioneering group was to build amateur satellites and arrange to have them launched.  It wasn’t clear which goal would be more difficult.  There was reason to believe that a launch might be forthcoming if the US government could be convinced that the amateur satellites would serve a useful function in one or more of the following areas: scientific exploration, technical development, disaster communications, or scientific/technical education.  As a result, the amateur satellite community has paid serious attention to these areas since its inception, a tradition that continues to this day.

It took the members of the OSCAR Association less than two years to build the first radio amateur satellite–OSCAR 1– and arrange for its launch.  Weighing in at 10 pounds, the spacecraft contained a 140-mW beacon at 146MHz.  The beacon transmitted a simple, repetitive Morse code message (.... ..) at a speed controlled by a sensor responding to the internal spacecraft temperature.  Although OSCAR 1 did not contain a transponder, it was an important first step toward that goal.  The events and emotions surrounding the launch of OSCAR 1 and its 22-day sojourn in space were beautifully captured in a classic QST article by Bill Orr (W6SAI).

    The question “What did OSCAR 1 cost?” was often asked.  It’s impossible to give a simple answer.  The most valuable commodity involved–the technical expertise of the radio amateurs who designed and built the spacecraft—was donated.  Major expenses such as travel, long-distance phone calls, machine shop access, key parts, technical books, and so on, were covered by donations or absorbed by the same people volunteering their labor.  The figure they came up with was $26 and this number became forever associated with OSCAR 1.

    OSCAR 2 was successfully launched on June 2, 1962, barely six months after OSCAR 1 .  Structurally and electrically the two spacecraft were initially nearly identical but, despite the extremely short time between the two launches, the design group was able to use results from the first flight to make several improvements in OSCAR 2.  These improvements included (1) changing the surface thermal coatings to achieve a cooler internal spacecraft environment, (2) modifying the sensing system so the satellite temperature could be measured accurately as the batteries decayed, and (3) lowering the transmitter power output to 100mW so as to extend the life of the onboard battery. 

    While OSCARs 1 and 2 were being built and flown, another more complex spacecraft employing a higher power transmitter and phase-coherent keying was being constructed by Chuck Smallhouse (WA6MGZ) and Orv Dalton (K6VEY).  Due to the success of the first two OSCAR launches, it was decided to suspend work on the new spacecraft, OSCAR *, so that the entire OSCAR team could focus their efforts on building the first relay satellite, which would be named OSCAR 3.

    As satellites became more complex costs rose precipitously and it became clear that these expenses had to be shared by a larger segment of the radio amateur community if the amateur satellite program was to grow.  In April 1962 the OSCAR Association formally incorporated as Project OSCAR, Inc.  One of the key goals of the new organization was to help fund the OSCAR program via soliciting donations and memberships in a national organization that would publish a newsletter focusing on amateur satellite activities. 

This information was obtained from the ARRL’s “The Radio Amateur’s Satellite Handbook”.

                         Satellite History: PART 2

    The 1960's Brought Radio amateur projects such as ECHO and Project West Ford.  We begin by looking at Project ECHO.  The aim of this program was to place in orbit a 90 to 125-foot diameter “balloon” having an aluminized Mylar surface capable of reflecting radio signals.  The first balloon to reach orbit was ECHO 1 (August 1960).  High power commercial and military experimenters were able to communicate using it but radio amateur power levels proved inadequate to the task.  Radio amateur interest continued because ECHO 2, which was to be larger and lower than its predecessor, looked more promising as a reflector.  Radio path loss calculations at 144 MHz suggested that communications via ECHO 2 might be possible by amateurs running 1 kW and using large antennas.  Its launch, originally planned for 1962, was delayed several times.  During the interim both radio amateurs and the US government had a chance to test their first active relay spacecraft.  The overwhelming success of the active relay approach led to the demise of Project ECHO, but not before 1964 when ECHO 2 finally reached orbit.

    Two amateurs, Bill Conkel (W6DNG) and Claude Maer (W0IC), were able to identify 144 MHz signals bouncing back from ECHO 2 but rapid fading and weak signals prevented two-way communications. 
    Since NASA began testing inflatable antenna structures deployed from the US Shuttle in mid-1996, an excellent opportunity for amateurs to retest the passive reflector concept may be at hand.

    The goal of Project West Ford was to create an artificial reflection back around the Earth by injecting hundreds of millions of needle-like copper dipoles into orbit.  The experiment was highly controversial.  Several scientific organizations suggested that the needles might seriously affect future active satellite relays, the manned space program, radio astronomy and even the weather.  However, the program continued.  On the first West Ford mission (October 1961) the ejection mechanism jammed and the needles were never released into orbit.  A second attempt two years later succeeded.  The belt of needles produced did support communication between ground stations but very high power (far above amateur levels) was requred.  As predicted by the experimenters, the needles decayed from orbit quickly and no permanent harm was done to the near Earth environment.  By this time, the advantages of active satellite relays had been demonstrated sufficiently so work on Project West Ford was shelved.

    Radio amateurs have successfully communicated by using the moon, a natural satellite of Earth, as a passive reflector on all amateur bacds between 50 MHz and 10 Ghz (inclusive).  Although moonbounce communication, often called EME (Earth-moon-Earth), has always taken the highest allowable power, large antennas and extremely sensitive receivers, it continues to have a special attraction to radio amateurs.  Today, most EME activity is concentrated on 144 MHz and 432 MHz.  Signals are weak at best, but continual refinement of all elements of the EME system has resulted in gradual but significant improvement in system performance.  On 2 meters, W5UN, using his 48 Yagi array affectionately known as the MBA (Mighty Big Antenna), was able to contact more than 1000 different stations in 70 countries via the moon within the first three years following its 1985 construction.
Several of the stations contacted were running as little as 150 W to a single long-boom Yagi.  On 70 cm, DL9KR reports having had QSO’s with more than 600 individual stations (1996) and SSB contacts are not uncommon.  Both of these big guns, and many others, have earned WAS and WAC via the moon.  Cumulative small improvements in station performance related to preamp performance, antenna design, and digital signal processing may one day change EME from a marginal mode to a highly reliable one.

    Meanwhile, another, albeit not very well known, space communication medium was being investigated by amateurs.  In 1958, Dr. John Kraus (W8JK), director of the Ohio State University Radio Observatory, noted that certain terrestrial HF beacon signals increased in strength and changed in other characteristic ways as low-altitude satellites passed nearby.  He attributed the enhancements to reflections off a trail of short-lived ionized particles caused by the passing spacecraft.  While this may at first seem similar to meteor scatter communication the physical mechanisms involved are considerably different due to the fact that satellite scatter is taking place at a much higher altitude where ionospheric particle density is orders of magnitude lower.
    Capitalizing on satellite scatter, amateurs were able to locate (or confirm the positions of) several silent (non-transmitting) US and Soviet satellites by monitoring signals from WWV.  In related work, two electrical engineering students, Perry Klein (W3PK) and Ray Soifer (W2RS), decided to test whether high-frequency satellite scatter could support communication.  Calculations suggested that 21 MHz was the optimal amateur frequency for tests.  The results were positive and their work received national publicity in various news media.  But signals using amateur power levels proved only marginal for practical communications purposes.

    The OSCAR satellite program nearly came to a screeching halt when the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) convened the 1963 Geneva Space Conference.  A motion submitted by the United Kingdom proposed the addition of a footnote in the 144-146 MHz worldwide amateur allocation authorizing amateur space satellites.  The USSR delegation emphatically rejected the proposal and stated its opposition to any amateur space activity.  Luckily, representatives of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) and Project OSCAR present at the meeting were able to mobilize support of delegations sympathetic to amateur satellite activities, notably those of the US, Canada and UK.  A QST article describing the conference specifically mentions the importance of a report by Bill Orr, W6SAI, representing Project OSCAR, in helping to neutralize the Soviet position.   The incident had a happy ending–the proposed footnote authorizing amateur satellite operation in the 144-146 MHz band was adopted.  And, amateurs had learned a very important lesson– international regulatory agencies can end the radio amateur satellite program with a stroke of the pen.

This information was obtained from the ARRL’s “The Radio Amateur’s Satellite Handbook”.

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