There have been several interesting radio articles in the news lately, and I find that heart-warming to say the least! And since a couple of articles dealt with radio in space, I was particularly excited, and a bit jealous!
I just saw a post in the British News about a local ham who made contact with the International Space Station for approximately 50 seconds (lucky devil!). The articles can be found here. I appreciate the fact that his station is a typical one, being described as a “garden shed.” Like this gentleman I have been trying hard for several weeks to get a contact through the ISS or SO-50, but have not yet been successful. I did however receive a reception report from an attempted contact from a station who heard my call but I did not hear his. Hey, half a contact is better than no contact! At least I know my voice has been in space!
There have also been announcements concerning a number Chinese satellites scheduled to launch in September. Postponed from a mid-July launch, nine satellites are scheduled now for deployment between September 7-9. More information can be found here.
Two cubesats were recently launched by the U.S. Naval Academy – BRICsat (Naval Academy OSCAR-83) and PSAT (NO-84) carry 300-milliwatt PSK-31 transponders with uplinks on 10 meters (28.120 MHz) and downlinks on 70 centimeter FM (435.350 MHz). The PSK transponder is NO-84’s primary mission, and represents the first new HF capable transponder for some years. I have been heard by the PSAT machine on APRS, but have not tried the PSK-31 modes yet. (So many satellites, so little time!)
Cubesats really are bring significantly more opportunities for space communications, and that is a good thing for the future of amateur radio and space. Interestingly, several cubesats (non-amateur radio, sorry!) will be sent along on the next Mars mission both as a test of long spaceflight and to be used as relays between surface communications. What a great idea!
Another Fox-1A satellite will launch early next year:
AMSAT-NA’s Fox-1A satellite which will launch on a NASA ELaNa flight from Vandenburg AFB has been mated to the Centaur upper stage which will carry it to orbit. A photo of the NPSCuL mated to the Centaur with the P-POD containing Fox-1A, BisonSat, ARC1 and 7 other P-PODs can be seen on the AMSAT website. http://www.amsat.org/?cat=21
For both the ISS and PSAT stations, APRS contacts are logged at aprs.fi – when you log in with your APRS call-sign (e.g. AK3Q-1) and click on [Raw Packets] on the right-side menu, your recent contacts will be listed, including those through the PSAT and ISS/RS0ISS links. This is almost instantaneous, and can be a good indicator to see if you are being heard during a satellite/station pass.