Friday, June 12, 2020

Old Satellites, New DX

Commemorative QSL card from 2004, celebrating
the 30th anniversary of the 1974 launch of AO-7
Forty-five-year-old AMSAT-OSCAR 7 is still operating (on its own terms!) and recently facilitated a contact at the far edge of its "footprint." The AMSAT News Service reports that on May 4, LW2DAF in Buenos Aires contacted ZS1TA in Cape Town, South Africa via AO-7, a distance of 4,329 miles (6,927 kilometers). Both stations reportedly had their antennas elevated to only 2 to 3 degrees above the horizon.
ANS also reports that AMRAD-OSCAR 27, launched in 1993 and long thought to be dead, has come back to life (just as AO-7 did several years ago). It is primarily sending telemetry but controllers say they've managed to activate its FM repeater transponder for about two minutes at a time. Controllers are working to bring it back more consistently.

Finally, a brand new satellite – Russia's RS-44 – was the focal point of a record-setting contact in mid-May between KI7UNJ in Oregon and EB1AO in Spain. Newsline reports that the contact stretched over 5,166 miles, or 8,314 kilometers, and that both stations had negative elevation on their antennas, meaning that the satellite was below the horizon at both ends of the contact. (The satellite has an uplink on 2 meters and a downlink on 70 centimeters, so there must have been some type of enhancement on both ends of the path. – ed.)