Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Four New Ham Satellites in Orbit

AMSAT's Fox-1D cubesat was successfully launched from India in mid-January. Designated as AMSAT-OSCAR 92 (AO-92), it went into general amateur service on January 26. According to the AMSAT News Service, it includes an FM transponder with an uplink on 435.350 MHz and a downlink on 145.880 MHz; plus an "L-Band Downshifter" which allows the command station to switch the uplink to 1267.350 MHz (both uplinks require a 67.0 Hz CTCSS tone); a camera provided by Virginia Tech and a radiation mapping experiment from the University of Iowa. 
A Chinese cubesat developed in part by elementary and middle school students was launched on January 19. The "Zhou Enlai" satellite includes an FM transponder (145.930 MHz up; 436.950 MHz down) as well as slow-scan TV capabilities and an SSTV beacon which will transmit date, time, location and temperature information on an SSTV frame, according to the ARRL. Two other cubesats operating on amateur frequencies were orbited on the same launch vehicle. TY2 and TY6 operate in the UHF and higher bands, with capabilities on 2.4, 5.6 and 5.8 GHz as well as 435 MHz.

On the downside of space news, the ARRL reports that the APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) station on the International Space Station was offline as of late January, "due to an as-yet unidentified anomaly involving the radio serving the system." No word at press time as to when or whether the problem might be resolved.