Friday, December 14, 2018

Five New Ham Satellites Launched; One Already in Trouble

A constellation of new ham radio satellites was launched in late 2018, including one destined for geosynchronous orbit and one that developed receiver troubles soon after activating. AMSAT-NA's "Fox-1 Cliff" satellite, now named AMSAT-OSCAR 95, appeared to have suffered a receiver failure during the commissioning process. The ARRL Letter says AMSAT is working to resolve the issue but fears that the satellite may be rendered unusable if controllers are unable to uplink commands. 
Several other ham satellites were launched on the same SpaceX Falcon 9 flight as AO-95 on December 3, including India's ExseedSat (VO-96), Jordan's JY1SAT (JO-97), AMSAT-UK's ESEO (FUNcube 4) and Polish student satellite PW-Sat2.

On November 15, the joint AMSAT-DL and Qatar Amateur Radio Society's Es'hail 2 satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral on another SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Currently in a temporary "parking" orbit, the AMSAT News Service says it will be moved to a permanent orbit after several weeks of in-orbit testing. Once it reaches its final orbital location over the Indian Ocean, the satellite should be able to provide full-time communications for hams from Brazil to Thailand. This is the first amateur satellite planned for geosynchronous orbit, meaning that it will appear to be in the same spot overhead at all times.