July 17, 2024

This Week in Amateur Radio

North America's Premiere Amateur Radio News Magazine


Via AMSAT: ANS-330 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins

In this edition:

* Happy 10th Birthday FUNcube-1 (AO-73)
* AMSAT Servers Back In Service After Brief Outage
* HERON Mk. II Reaches Orbit
* Starship Flies Higher
* ITU RS-23 Adopts Resolution for Space Spectrum
* Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for November 24
* ARISS News
* Upcoming Satellite Operations
* Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
* Satellite Shorts From All Over

The AMSAT News Service bulletins are a free, weekly news and information service of AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation. ANS publishes news related to Amateur Radio in Space including reports on the activities of a worldwide group of Amateur Radio operators who share an active interest in designing, building, launching and communicating through analog and digital Amateur Radio satellites.

The news feed on http://www.amsat.org publishes news of Amateur Radio in Space as soon as our volunteers can post it.

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to: ans-editor [at] amsat.org

You can sign up for free e-mail delivery of the AMSAT News Service Bulletins via the ANS List; to join this list see: https://mailman.amsat.org/postorius/lists/ans.amsat.org/

ANS-330 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins

From: Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation
712 H Street NE, Suite 1653
Washington, DC 20002

DATE 2023 Nov 26

Happy 10th Birthday FUNcube-1 (AO-73)

November 21, 2023, marks the tenth birthday of our very first CubeSat mission, FUNcube-1 (AO-73).

A very short time after the launch from Yasny in Russia and within a few minutes from deployment, the very first frame of data from the low power transmitter on board, was detected and decoded by ZS1LS in South Africa. He was able to relay the data over the internet from his Dashboard to the Data Warehouse and the numbers, appeared, as if by magic, at the launch party being held at the RSGB National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park.

After a very brief check out, the FUNcube team were able to switch the transmitter to full power, again at the very first attempt, and were quite amazed at the strength of the signal from the 300mW transmitter on 145.935 MHz. The transponder was then switched on and successfully tested, the first contact was between G6LVB and M5AKA who were both operating from the Bletchley Park car park.

The team finished the day with a request to AMSAT-NA for an Oscar number and were delighted to receive the AO73 Oscar 73 designation!

Since then, FUNcube-1, with a launch mass of less than 1kg, has operated continuously with only a very few interruptions. In excess of 53,500 orbits, 1.3 billion miles travelled, 61 million telemetry data packets transmitted, and with more than 10.9 million unique data packets downloaded and stored in the Data Warehouse.

The FUNcube team still receive many requests for Fitter message uploads for school events…please contact us by email to operations@funcube.org.uk giving us at least two weeks notice.

The FUNcube team continue to be very grateful to all the many stations around the world that continue to upload the telemetry that they receive to our Data Warehouse. They really need this data to provide a continuous resource for educational outreach.

FUNcube Data Warehouse and the Dashboard software

FUNcube email group https://groups.io/g/FUNcube

FUNcube Website http://www.funcube.org.uk/

[ANS thanks AMSAT-UK for the above information]

The 2023 AMSAT President’s Club coins are here now!
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of its launch
on June 16, 1983, this year’s coin features
an image of AMSAT-OSCAR 10.

Join the AMSAT President’s Club today and help
Keep Amateur Radio in Space!

AMSAT Servers Back In Service After Brief Outage

At approximately 21:04 UTC Tuesday November 21, our vendor Linode detected a failing disk on the hardware that runs our web, telemetry, source code control and Echolink servers and began to effect emergency data protection operations.    AMSAT’s Engineering department is clearly working hard, because within 10 minutes they alerted the AMSAT IT department that they were having trouble accessing the server that holds the source code for our satellite projects.

Meanwhile Linode proceeded to “evacuate” our servers from the failing hardware, and migrated them to new hardware.

All services were restored by approximately 21:20 UTC and the servers appear to be happily settling in to their new home.

There is no sign of any data loss, but as always if you see anything out of the ordinary please write webmaster@amsat.org

[ANS thanks Joe Fitzgerald, KM1P, of the AMSAT IT Team for the above information]


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and M2 LEO-Packs from the AMSAT Store. When you purchase through
AMSAT, a portion of the proceeds goes towards
Keeping Amateur Radio in Space.


HERON Mk. II Reaches Orbit

The University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT) Space Systems’ HERON Mk. II satellite lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket of the SpaceX Transporter-9 mission.

As a rideshare mission to space, the Transporter-9 delivered HERON Mk. II — alongside 89 other small satellites — to an orbit approximately 540 kilometres above Earth’s surface. Marking the culmination of nearly a decade of work by student Space Systems engineers, the HERON Mk. II’s path to the launch pad was one of dedication and perseverance.

The UTAT are a team composed primarily of engineering students that designs and builds small satellites known as CubeSats. Team’s first satellite, HERON Mk. I — short for Human Experiment Relay On Nanosatellite — was a CubeSat developed from 2014–2016. For various reasons, the project did not end in a launch opportunity, and so HERON Mk. I was retired.

Since our team was performing work that required members to be on campus, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our original spacecraft assembly plans.

Any organization wishing to send a satellite into space and communicate with it via radio waves first needs to obtain the appropriate radio frequency (RF) licenses from Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada. Unfortunately, the process of obtaining these licenses for the HERON Mk. II satellite took significantly longer than expected and delayed the launch. Because of the delay, the team was forced to abandon the original biological mission.

Therefore, the team decided to shift the primary focus of the HERON Mk. II mission toward validating UTAT Space Systems’ RF communications capabilities and providing amateur radio and satellite operations experience to our members.

While waiting for the frequency licenses to be issued, a group of our teammates began designing an amateur ultra-high frequency (UHF) ground station. This is the apparatus that allows us to communicate with HERON Mk. II from the ground, via radio waves at a frequency of 437.12 megahertz. Now fully operational, the ground station currently resides on the sixth-floor roof of the Bahen Centre for Information Technology.

In September, a few team members travelled to Spaceflight’s facilities in Bellevue, Washington, where they placed HERON Mk. II inside its deployer that would later be mounted inside the Falcon 9 rocket for the SpaceX Transporter-9 mission.

Once the Falcon 9 rocket reached its intended orbit in space, HERON Mk. II was ejected from the rocket at 3:04 pm EST, and soon deployed its UHF antenna. The UHF antenna plays a crucial role in preventing any electromagnetic interference with the other satellites, which might otherwise distort the signals sent between HERON Mk. II and the ground station.

During the initial commissioning period, we will be actively trying to establish the first communications via the ground station. Afterward, HERON Mk. II will begin a year of regular operations during which the team will regularly monitor the satellite’s health.

The lessons learned from mission operations and monitoring the satellite’s health will inform the development of future satellite missions undertaken by UTAT Space Systems.

With the launch of HERON Mk. II, UTAT Space Systems has lowered the barrier to entry for space programs even further by becoming the first organization in Canada to receive the entirety of its satellite development funding from a student levy. This marks yet another paradigm shift in the industry, demonstrating that students are capable of sourcing their own space mission funding, rather than solely relying on government grants or commercial sponsorships.

From an educational perspective, the HERON Mk. II mission will enable team members to learn more about satellite operations and amateur radio and to gain knowledge that will carry forward to UTAT Space Systems’ future missions.

[ANS thanks The Varsity, student newspaper of the University of Toronto, for the above information]

Starship Flies Higher

Seven long months after Starship’s first integrated flight test in April, Ship 25 launched atop Booster 9 on a second test flight, again targeting a ballistic trajectory with a planned splashdown north of Hawai’i.

This time, all 33 Raptor 2 engines on Booster 9 completed a full first-stage burn, producing a 300-meter-long exhaust plume and roughly twice the thrust of any other object flown by humanity.

The 121-meter monster rocket also completed what appeared to be a successful hot stage separation, with B9 shutting down all but three of its Raptors (which were throttled to 50%) followed by S25’s six engines starting up to push the ship away from the booster.

Hot staging reduces gravity losses and keeps the upper stage continuously under thrust for fuel settling.

After stage separation, B9 completed a somewhat vigorous flip and, perhaps due to propellant slosh or damage, had trouble relighting its Raptor engines. (Engines that ingest tank pressurization gas instead of propellant generally end up functioning quite destructively.)

After several “high energy” events at the aft end of Booster 9, an explosion originating from its common bulkhead rapidly disassembled the booster.

After separation, Starship’s upper stage burned until seconds before entering its planned coast phase—climbing to an altitude of 148 km and over 6.7 km/s, reaching space and very nearly hitting orbital velocity.

However, S25 appeared to trigger its automated flight termination system during terminal guidance, possibly due to a leak in its oxygen tank—debris from the explosion were caught on NOAA radar extending past Puerto Rico.

The thermal protection system (TPS) made up of 18,000 tiles, appeared to lose a significant number of tiles during the launch, especially ones that were glued on near weld points, making the ship unlikely to have survived reentry even if the flight had made it that far.

S28’s TPS tiles are said to have an improved adhesion process that has been tested with a suction cup plus force meter to verify attachment. One additional clear success was the performance of SpaceX’s much improved “stage zero”—the water deluge system appeared undamaged and very little other damage and debris have been spotted by ever-vigilant tank watchers.

Due to a complete loss of both stages, the FAA will conduct another mishap investigation, although many hope it will be significantly more streamlined due to the improved FTS functionality and better performance of the launch system—in particular, the Fish and Wildlife Service may not be involved this time.

The always-optimistic Musk suggests a next test flight for Starship in 3-4 weeks, and with plenty of hardware waiting in the wings (S28 and B10 are likely up next), the timeline will probably be determined yet again by the mishap investigation and mitigation process. NASA seems keen to get on with it though as the agency believes its lunar lander mission may take up to 20 Starship launches

[ANS thanks The Orbital Index for the above information]

ITU RA-23 Adopts Resolution for Space Spectrum

The ITU Radiocommunication Assembly 2023 (RA-23), a precursor to the World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC-23, wrapped up on November 17 with a lot of new resolutions covering 6G standards, sustainable usage of space spectrum and gender equality.

RA-23, which was held last week in Dubai, adopted the new Recommendation ITU-R M. 2160 on the “IMT-2030 Framework,” which sets the basis for development of 6G, a.k.a. IMT-2030. The next phase will be the definition of relevant requirements and evaluation criteria for potential radio interface technologies.

The assembly also adopted a a new resolution on space sustainability to facilitate the long-term sustainable use of radio spectrum and associated satellite orbit resources used by space services, in in accordance with Resolution 219 (Bucharest, 2022). The ITU says this resolution will benefit the satellite sector and support further cooperation with other United Nations organizations.

RA-23 also finished a new ITU-R Recommendation on the protection of the radio navigation-satellite service and amateur satellite services, and adopted a a new resolution on the use of IMT technologies for fixed wireless broadband.

The assembly also agreed to revise ITU-R Resolution 65 to facilitate studies looking at the compatibility of current regulations with potential 6G IMT radio interface technologies for 2030 and beyond.

Resolution ITU-R 8-3 was also revised to promote the participation of engineers and scientists from developing countries in radiowave propagation campaigns in tropical and subtropical regions with limited data monitoring.

The RA-23 resolutions arrive just ahead of WRC-23, which commenced November 20 in Dubai and will run until 15 December 2023. Hot items on the agenda include the ongoing battle between the satellite and mobile sectors for 5G spectrum, especially as non-terrestrial networks become part of 3GPP’s 5G standards, the development of direct-to-device satellite services, and revisiting rules about satellite power limits for LEO satellites, to name a few.

To learn more about the WRC-23, visit https://www.itu.int/wrc-23/about/about-wrcs/.

[ANS thanks DevelopingTelecoms.com for the above information]


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Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for November 24

Two Line Elements or TLEs, often referred to as Keplerian elements or keps in the amateur community, are the inputs to the SGP4 standard mathematical model of spacecraft orbits used by most amateur tracking programs. Weekly updates are completely adequate for most amateur satellites. TLE bulletin files are updated daily in the first hour of the UTC day. New bulletin files will be posted immediately after reliable elements become available for new amateur satellites. More information may be found at https://www.amsat.org/keplerian-elements-resources/.

This week there are no additions or deletions to the AMSAT TLE distribution.

[ANS thanks AMSAT Orbital Elements page for the above information]



Amateurs and others around the world may listen in on contacts between amateurs operating in schools and allowing students to interact with astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station. The downlink frequency on which to listen is 145.800 MHz worldwide.

National Research Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod (UNN), Nizhny Novgorod, direct via UB1QBM. The ISS callsign was RSØISS, and the crewmember was Konstantin Borisov. The ARISS mentor was RV3DR. Contact was successful at Wed 2023-11-22 16:40 UTC.
Congratulations to the National Research Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod students, Konstantin, and mentor RV3DR!

Note that due to the recent debris avoidance maneuver, that was performed on Nov. 10, some of the pass times have significantly shifted. It is suggested that you use the very latest Kep data.

The crossband repeater continues to be active (145.990 MHz up {PL 67} & 437.800 MHz down). If any crewmember is so inclined, all they have to do is pick up the microphone, raise the volume up, and talk on the crossband repeater.  So give a listen, you just never know.

The packet system is also active (145.825 MHz up & down).

As always, if there is an EVA, a docking, or an undocking; the ARISS radios are turned off as part of the safety protocol.

Note, all times are approximate.  It is recommended that you do your own orbital prediction or start listening about 10 minutes before the listed time.

The latest information on the operation mode can be found at  https://www.ariss.org/current-status-of-iss-stations.html

The latest list of frequencies in use can be found at https://www.ariss.org/contact-the-iss.html

[ANS thanks Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, one of the ARISS operation team mentors for the above information]

Upcoming Satellite Operations

None scheduled at this time.

A growing number of satellite rovers are currently engaged in sharing their grid square activations on https://hams.at. By visiting the website, you gain easy access to comprehensive information about the operators responsible for activating specific grid squares. Additionally, you have the ability to assess the match score between yourself and a particular rover for a given pass, while also being able to identify the upcoming satellite passes that are accessible from your location.

[ANS thanks Ian Parsons, K5ZM, AMSAT rover page manager, for the above information]

Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events

AMSAT Ambassadors provide presentations, demonstrate communicating through amateur satellites, and host information tables at club meetings, hamfests, conventions, maker faires, and other events.

None scheduled at this time.

[ANS thanks the AMSAT Events page for the above information]

Satellite Shorts From All Over

+ EIRSAT-1 is expected to launch on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA, on November 29, 2023. It will have a downlink on the IARU coordinated frequency of 437.100 MHz, see https://iaru.amsat-uk.org/finished_detail.php?serialnum=639. Information on the beacon can be found at https://github.com/ucd-eirsat-1/beacon. EIRSAT-1 was built by students from University College Dublin under the framework of ESA Academy’s Fly Your Satellite! programme (FYS). (ANS thanks AMSAT-UK for the above information)

+ The European Space Agency conducted a long-duration firing of an Ariane 6 prototype Nov. 23, one of the final tests before the agency is ready to set a date for the rocket’s inaugural launch. ESA said Ariane 6 “passed” the test in a statement shortly afterwards, describing it as a “seven-minute full firing” of the engine, rather than the nearly eight minutes advertised beforehand. (ANS thanks SpaceNews.com for the above information)

+ The tool bag recently lost by NASA astronauts during a spacewalk is now orbiting Earth and is surprisingly visible to stargazers. The object can appear as bright as a 6th-magnitude star. The tool bag changes slightly in brightness, suggesting the object is tumbling as it orbits our planet. Although the tool bag was ahead of the International Space Station (ISS) by about a minute or two shortly after the incident, it is gradually appearing farther ahead of the ISS as it loses altitude. By mid-November, the tool bag should be ahead by about ten minutes. (ANS thanks EarthSky.org for the above information)

+ With the Sun in the way of our messages, Curiosity and Perseverance, along with Ingenuity, MRO, Odyssey, and MAVEN, are hunkered down during the Mars solar conjunction communication blackout. Curiosity has now spent 4,000 sols exploring the red planet and has driven 32 km. (ANS thanks The Orbital Index for the above information)

Join AMSAT today at https://launch.amsat.org/

In addition to regular membership, AMSAT offers membership to:

* Societies (a recognized group, clubs or organization).
* Primary and secondary school students are eligible for membership at one-half the standard yearly rate.
* Post-secondary school students enrolled in at least half time status shall be eligible for the student rate for a maximum of 6 post-secondary years in this status.
* Memberships are available for annual and lifetime terms.

Contact info [at] amsat.org for additional membership information.

73 and remember to help Keep Amateur Radio in Space!

This week’s ANS Editor, Mark Johns, KØJM
k0jm [at] amsat.org

via AMSAThttps://www.amsat.org/ans-330-amsat-news-service-weekly-bulletins/