Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio (OSCAR)
The spacecraft and/or the amateur radio transceivers are designed and built by Ham radio operators. AMSAT assigns the OSCAR designators (numbers) sequentially. Amateur satellites that are not built by AMSAT are only assigned OSCAR designators if a request is made by the satellite's owner.
The satellite UOSAT-11 is one of dozens of amateur satellites orbiting the earth. Sputnik, the world's first artificial Earth-orbiting satellite, transmitted a beacon on 20.005 MHz which was monitored by thousands of hams and Short Wave Listeners (SWL). Since 1957, many OSCAR (Orbiting Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio) satellites have been constructed by ordinary people interested in satellites communications. OSCAR 1, launched in December of 1961, weighed 10 pounds and transmitted a 15 milliwatt beacon for about 3 weeks. OSCAR 13, launched in the summer of 1988, provides reliable, near-global communications. Interestingly enough, the OSCAR series of satellites are actually ballast for larger primary NASA payloads. It's simpler and cheaper to ballast a rocket with dead weight rather than reduce the thrust. As a result, it is possible to add secondary payloads of homemade satellites to multi-million dollar NASA missions at minimal costs.
There are currently nineteen OSCAR satellites orbiting our planet with various communications capabilities and functions. Most are used by ordinary amateur radio operators for educational, scientific, and purely recreational purposes. Anyone interested in knowing more about the OSCAR series of satellites in encouraged to contact the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation
Analog satellites contain transponders or repeaters that can relay voice communications. Digital satellites are capable of transmitting, receiving, or relaying digital information. Many manned satellites carry amateur radio transceivers for scheduled contacts with schools and random contacts with amateur radio operators.
Visit AMSAT for a more information.
ARISS (International Space Station)
The amateur radio station onboard the ISS comprises several units. The initial unit, a handheld VHF transceiver, is located in the Functional Cargo Block, the Zarya. The phase 2 unit is located in the Service Module, the Zvesda. This is a multiband and multimode station.
The onboard ARISS station offers a permanent space platform to the worldwide amateur radio community. Several operational modes are automated and used by groundstations without crew care. Cosmonauts and astronauts also use the station to contact groundbound amateur radio stations in their free time.
The Space Agencies have entrusted ARISS with the task to organise ARISS School Contacts. When a contact is scheduled, volunteering amateur satellite operators set up a groundstation in the selected school. During the ten minutes pass of the ISS, an astronaut answers the questions prepared by the students.
The original amateur radio equipment on board the International Space Station is located in the Functional Cargo Block (FGB), named Zarya.
Phase 1 is a handheld 5 watt VHF FM transceiver connected to an outboard antenna system that supported docking of the FGB with the Russian Service Module, named Zvesda. These antennas, designed for use near the 2-meter band, no longer support docking and can be used by the ARISS team permanently.
A similar UHF handheld transceiver is on board but will be deployed later.
For voice operation the astronauts use headphones with a microphone attached. Packet Radio is provided by means of a Modem and a portable computer. An Adapter interconnects these units.
Phase 2 Hardware comprises two multiband transceivers supporting 2 meter (144-146 MHz) and 70 cm (435-438 MHz) transmit/receive and L-band uplink operation. HF operation will also be provided. Power output is 10-25 Watts.
There are NOAA (NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION) Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) in a quite low orbit (about 800 km high), that surround the earth in about 100 minutes always crossing close to the poles.Currently these are NOAA-15, NOAA-17 and NOAA-18. All three satellites broadcast using a system termed Automatic Picture Transmission (APT). Due to the rotation of the earth they will cover the whole earth in about 12 hours. During their flight they continuously scan the surface at different frequencies and this data is continuously sent to the earth at a frequency of around 137 MHz at a resolution of one pixel per four kilometers. They can be received when the satellite is above horizon typically for about 10 to 20 minutes during each pass.
FUNcube-1 (AO73) is a complete educational single CubeSat project with the goal of enthusing and educating young people about radio, space, physics and electronics. FUNcube-1, now registered as a Dutch spacecraft, was successfully launched from Russia on a DNEPR rocket on Nov 21st 2013 at 07:11:29 UTC and after one year in orbit continue to perform well. More than 750 stations around the world are already receiving and decoding the telemetry and many schools are already involved.