As a youngster, hobbying in electronics and amateur radio, and reading as much as I could get my hands on, there was one photograph that really caught my eye. It was of a man working on the first amateur satellite, known as OSCAR, which stands for Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio.
In the photo, you don’t see a high-tech clean room with men in white suits and hair nets. No, he’s using a folding table to work on the satellite! The person in the photo is Lance Ginner, K6GSJ. The time: the early 1960s.
Lance Ginner, K6GSJ works on an early OSCAR satellite circa 1961.
Photo courtesy Project OSCAR.
OSCAR-1, the first amateur satellite, was launched December 12, 1961 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California just shy of four years after the launch of the world’s first satellite, Sputnik-1. How cool is that?!? To be able to work on something that is so high tech! In an interview with Lance in the article, Between a Rock and Outer Space: Interview with OSCAR Pioneer Lance Ginner, The AMSAT Journal Sep/Oct 2006, Lance recalls all of the people involved in building and launching OSCAR-1, and subsequent satellites. OSCAR-1 would not have made into space if it were not for the extraordinary people involved. Lesson learned: it takes more than technology to bring a great idea to fruition.
Fast forward to the not too distance past, circa 2009, when we were having one of our ARISSat-1 group working sessions in one of Microchip Technology’s conference rooms. We took one of the larger rooms, moved the tables around so that work and collaboration could happen much more easily, and we got down to work.
Folks flew in from all around the United States; from the East Coast to the West Coast. Though much of our communication was done via email, we would at least once a quarter get together. These sessions were somewhat grueling, all day Saturday and Sunday affairs, but very productive. We found that they were necessary to help move the project along. Email and collaborative tools could only get us so far, it seemed.
One of our many weekend group working sessions. From left to right Jerry Zdenek (N9YTK), Phil Karn (KA9Q), John Charais and Joe Julicher (N9WXU).
I’ll leave off there, for this week’s blog post. Next week, I’ll start
digging into the initial design work, some of the top challenges we
faced, and how we began to solve them. However, before signing off, I
wanted to give you an update on the latest ARISSat-1 news. Here’s what
we know about the deployment schedule, from the latest AMSAT News
“ARISSat-1/KEDR Project Manager Gould Smith, WA4SXM said this week the latest status, discussed during the International ARISS tele-conference Sergey Samburov, RV3DR announced the ARISSat battery will be charged late July and a test of the system will be conducted on the ISS from 1915 UTC 30 July to about 1200-1400 UTC 31 July.
“The standard ARISSat-1/KEDR 2m downlink band plan should be transmitted. Additionally, the FM signal also downlinked on 437.55 MHz. More information as it becomes available.
“During the test ARISSat-1 will be in LOW power mode, this means that it will transmit about 40 seconds and then shut down for 2 minutes and then transmit for 40 seconds, etc. The standard ARISSat-1/KEDR 2m downlink band plan should be transmitted. Additionally, the FM signal also downlinked on 437.55 MHz.
“As to the date of deployment, Gould summarized, ‘The deployment date for ARISSat is still subject to change. As of July 14 we are looking at a 3 Aug 2011 date for EVA 29 and the ARISSat-1/KEDR deployment.’”
The ARISSat/KEDR deployment is the first task of the EVA, so it will occur fairly soon after the EVA begins."
We’ll keep you updated, as news emerges…
You can read the first blog at: Chip in Space - The Building of an Amateur Satellite
ARISSat-1 Official Web Site
The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation
NASA International Space Station