AMSAT NEWS SERVICE
The AMSAT News Service bulletins are a free, weekly news and information service of AMSAT
North America, 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://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 dot org.
In this edition:
* RadFxSat-2 Update – (January 29, 2021)
* RadFxSat-2 Signals Detected, AMSAT Engineering Continues to Assess Status (January 28,
* ARISS Operations Situation
* Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for January 28, 2021
* QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo to Include Speaker Track on Amateur Radio Satellites
* Ham Radio’s SuitSat Returns in Short Horror Film
* Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
* Upcoming Satellite Operations
* ARISS News
* Satellite Shorts from All Over
* Iodine Thruster Could Slow Space Junk Accumulation
SB SAT @ AMSAT $ANS-031.01
ANS-031 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins
AMSAT News Service Bulletin 031.01
From Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) 712 H Street NE Suite 1653, Washington,
January 31, 2021
To ALL RADIO AMATEURS
RadFxSat-2 Update (January 29, 2021)
From AMSAT Vice President - Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY:
"Thanks go to W5SAT, who applied the amateur radio spirit of exploration and
innovation to helping find out "what's up?" with RadFxSat-2.
"We appreciate his work and immediately applied it to our processes as we
"Why was it not heard or found week ago? There could be an unexplained behavior such
that it could not and was not able to occur until the other day. Our stations attempted
transponder use under various conjectured and commanded states throughout this period as
part of the exploration of the anomaly, but did not detect any signals. They were able to
confirm their signals the night of the 27th.
"Following that we turned attention to the beacon, as you know. We have not
discovered the beacon yet and we have contacted some top class "big gun"
stations, asking for their help. The signal will obviously be pipsqueak and may not even
be there. The drive to find it, or if it is not detected then to take possible actions to
activate it, is the information in the telemetry that is paramount to knowing through
satellite data exactly what is going on. We asked you that the transponder not be used
because any power to signals in the transponder downlink is power stolen from the beacon
strength. We have asked everybody to listen, as from the beginning, to help find it and
find status and solutions faster. It may sound boring or useless but it is at the heart of
every satellite launch and commissioning phase and perhaps the biggest part the general
satellite community can play in the lifetime of the satellite. The payoff is important to
all of us, and I invite anyone to join the hunt and share in the enjoyment of - whatever
"I can't say what we will be doing tomorrow for sure, we will be looking for any
reports and telemetry as more and larger stations join and because we have seen behavior
that is not clearly understood. Procedures and conclusions that are not carefully thought
out could result in losing what we have now. It is comparable to NASA taking careful time
in dealing with anomalies (barring safety-related issues). Very importantly, we will be
watching to see if anyone captured anything at all from the telemetry in the beacon. All
you have to do is hunt and catch one frame and you are a hero in this game. Your help is
"Unless there is some big news over the weekend, I expect that Monday evening would
be the next opportunity for a short update, time permitting."
[ANS thanks Jerry Buxton, N0JY, AMSAT Vice President - Engineering for the above
RadFxSat-2 Signals Detected, AMSAT Engineering Continues to Assess Status (January 28,
On January 27, 2021, Brad Schumacher, W5SAT, reported copying his CW signal weakly via the
RadFxSat-2 transponder. On the morning of January 28, AMSAT Engineering and Operations
confirmed these reports and determined that RadFxSat-2 is partially functioning, though
signals are extremely weak. AMSAT thanks W5SAT for his report.
AMSAT also appreciate those who joined in determining whether they could detect their own
or other signals in recent passes today.
At this time it is essential and we ask you: Please do not attempt to transmit through the
transponder until further notice. This is very important to the next steps the team is
The next crucial step in evaluating the condition of RadFxSat-2 is to determine whether or
not the 1200 bps BPSK telemetry beacon is operating and, if possible, copy telemetry from
the beacon. AMSAT asks that everyone with 70cm receive capability listen to the beacon
frequency of 435.750 MHz (+/-) Doppler, upper sideband (USB). Use FoxTelem with your
receiver in order to tune and capture any telemetry you can. Also make sure FoxTelem is
set to "Upload to server" so that AMSAT receives your telemetry data. If you
capture a good IQ recording on SDR, please send a detailed description of your recording
to foxtelem(a)amsat.us. The team may respond with a request for your recording and details
on how to transfer it to the AMSAT Engineering team. Please understand that keeping the
transponder clear is essential to putting all power and attention to the beacon
Two-line elements (TLE's) are available in AMSAT's nasabare.txt distribution at
. Available data suggests that RadFxSat-2 is
OBJECT M from the Virgin Orbit LauncherOne launch, NORAD ID 47320, international
AMSAT thanks the Amateur satellite community for their perseverance and assistance while
the AMSAT Engineering and Operations teams work to understand and resolve the situation
[ANS thanks the AMSAT Engineering and Operations teams for the above
AMSAT's GOLF Program is about getting back to higher orbits, and it
all begins with GOLF-TEE - a technology demonstrator for deployable
solar panels, propulsion, and attitude control. Come along for the
ride. The journey will be worth it!
ARISS Operations Situation
Thursday, January 28., 2021 Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, ARISS-USA Executive Director issued the
"Today was a tough one for ARISS. Let me explain.
"As you all know, an EVA (spacewalk) was conducted yesterday to install cabling on
the exterior of Columbus to support the commissioning of the Bartolomeo attached payload
capability mounted on the Columbus module. On January 26, prior to the EVA, our Columbus
next generation radio system was shut off and the ISS-internal coaxial cable to the
antenna was disconnected from the ARISS radio as a safety precaution for the EVA. During
the EVA, our current external antenna coaxial cable, installed in 2009, was replaced with
another one built by ESA/Airbus with four RF connectors included, as compared to the
current 2 RF connections. This change was made to allow ESA to connect ARISS and 3
additional customers to Bartolomeo, as compared to ARISS and one additional RF customer.
"As you might have seen yesterday, the EVA was conducted and our cable connection was
swapped out. This morning, the crew restarted the radio system. Not hearing any Voice
Repeater reports, we requested a switch to APRS packet. We still did not hear any
downlink reports. At 1746 UTC we had a planned ARISS school contact between our certified
telebridge station ON4ISS, operated by Jan in Belgium, and Mike Hopkins on ISS. No
downlink signal was heard during the contact. The crew radioed down ???no joy??? on the
contact about halfway through the contact and the Newcastle High School, Newcastle
Wyoming, USA contact attempt ended.
"Clearly, there is an issue. More troubleshooting will be required. It may be the new
external RF cable that was installed during yesterday's EVA. It might also be from the
connect and disconnect of the interior coaxial (RF) cable. So the interior cable cannot
not be totally discounted yet. The crew took pictures of the coaxial cable and connector
attached to the ARISS radio inside the ISS. Because the exterior cable is a Bartolomeo
cable and not an ARISS cable, we are working with ESA and NASA on a way forward. NASA has
opened a Payload Anomaly Report on this issue. We have talked to both the NASA and ESA
representatives. These are the same folks that worked with us on previous ARISS hardware
systems as well as the ESA Bartolomeo integration initiative. We have also asked our
Russian team lead, Sergey Samburov, if we can temporarily use the radio in the Service
Module for school contacts until we are able to resolve this issue. As we gather more
information, we will share it with you.
"On behalf of the ARISS International Board, the Delegates and the entire team, I
want to thank all of you for your tremendous volunteer support to ARISS. We WILL get
through this and be more resilient as a result."
[ANS thanks Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO, ARISS-USA Executive Director for the above
Need new satellite antennas? Purchase Arrows, Alaskan Arrows,
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.
Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for January 28, 2021
Available data suggests that RadFxSat-2 is OBJECT M from the Virgin Orbit LauncherOne
1-19-21 launch, NORAD ID 47320, international designation 21-002M. Therefore, The
following satellite has been added to this week's AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution:
RadFxSat-2 - NORAD Cat ID 47320.
Thanks to Brad Schumacher, W5SAT for his report copying RadFxSat-2 and AMSAT Engineering
Ops for the confirmation.
The following satellite has also been added to this week's AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution:
OBJECT N - NORAD Cat ID 47345.
This object was part of the Virgin Orbit LauncherOne Demo 2 launch of January 19, 2021.
Object N was initially given the wrong launch date but that date was later corrected to
The current TLE's can always be downloaded at
[ANS thanks Ray Hoad, WA5QGD, AMSAT Keplerian Elements Manager for the above
QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo to Include Speaker Track on Amateur Radio Satellites
The QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo on March 13 – 14, 2021 will devote a speaker track to AMSAT
and the world of Amateur Radio satellites.
The Expo is in “full planning mode” and promises “many exciting new things” for the
upcoming event, which will include a world-class lineup of more than 60 speakers and
workshops for beginners to experts. Presenters at nine AMSAT sessions will discuss the
broad spectrum of ham radio satellites, including:
- Introduction to Amateur Radio Satellites (Douglas Quagliana, KA2UPW)
- Getting on the Air with Satellites (Clint Bradford, K6LCS)
- How to Enjoy Amateur Radio Contacts with the International Space Station (Frank Bauer,
- Implementation of LDPC Encoder on FPGA (Anshul Makkar)
- Debris Mitigation in Earth’s Orbit (Anshul Makkar)
- Digital Multiplexing Transponder from the Open Research Institute (Michelle Thompson,
- Solving the ITAR and EAR Problem for the Amateur Radio Satellite Service (Michelle
- Remote Labs for P4XT Engineering Development (Paul Williamson, KB5MU)
Thompson, an AMSAT Board Member, said working satellites is one of the most rewarding
privileges of holding an Amateur Radio license.
“There has never been a better time to be involved in amateur radio satellites, since some
long-standing regulatory burdens have been lifted and advanced technology has never been
more affordable and accessible,” Thompson remarked. “We have opportunities now that were
not available as of even a few years ago. AMSAT is fortunate to contribute to the Expo by
showcasing the truly amazing work going on around the world in the amateur satellite
scene. And the Expo is an ideal partner to show it off to the wider ham audience.”
AMSAT will have a booth at the Expo, where attendees can talk to experts, enthusiasts,
operators, and technicians and obtain contact and membership information for the 30 AMSAT
societies around the world.
Early Bird tickets are $10 (to help cover the cost of this event) and $12.50 “at the
door.” That includes entry for the live, 2-day event as well as access during the 30-day
on-demand period following the event. Register on the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo website.
[ANS thanks the ARRL for the above information.]
Ham Radio’s SuitSat Returns in Short Horror Film
SuitSat loses its innocence in a new video short sci-fi thriller Decommissioned. “Inspired
by true events,” the video short resurrects the 2006 spacesuit/satellite that transmitted
messages on 2 meters as it circled Earth. The original SuitSat-1 project, conceived by an
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) team, repurposed a decommissioned
Russian Orlan spacesuit to function as a free-floating amateur radio transmit-only
“ARISS designed and built an antenna and radio gear that got approved for installation
into the suit, and cosmonaut Valeri Tokarev and Commander Bill McArthur, KC5ACR, put
SuitSat-1 into orbit at the start of a spacewalk,” ARISS-US Delegate for ARRL Rosalie
White, K1STO, recounted. SuitSat-1 transmitted a voice message, “This is SuitSat-1 RS0RS!”
in several languages, plus telemetry and a slow-scan TV image on an 8-minute cycle as it
In the 6-minute film, a SuitSat returns in the future to haunt International Space Station
commander “Diaz,” played by Joey Vieira. Diaz is seen taking photos from inside an
observation dome on the ISS when he spies some distant space debris and radios Houston to
“If there was any cause for alarm, you know we’d see it too,” Houston assures.
As the object closes in, an increasingly anxious Diaz recognizes the “debris” as SuitSat.
“This is SuitSat,” comes a voice on the ham radio.
“Houston, you’re not gonna believe this. We’re picking up transmissions on the ham radio
that sound identical to the SuitSat experiment,” he tells a skeptical mission control.
“It’s SuitSat! I’m seeing SuitSat!”
“SuitSat re-entered the atmosphere and burned up years ago,” mission control responds.
Decommissioned was produced by Perception Pictures and directed by Australian filmmaker
Josh Tanner. He told Gizmodo that he produced the video “using the Unreal Engine
technology that The Mandalorian used, albeit old-school rear projection, as opposed to the
fancy LED wall tech they used.”
SuitSat-1 — called Radioskaf or Radio Sputnik in Russian — was so successful that another
unneeded Orlan spacesuit was subsequently refitted as SuitSat-2.
As an interesting sidebar with respect to the real SuitSat, White explained, “After the
ARISS engineers calculated SuitSat-1’s orbit and spin characteristics, they knew the legs
and arms would have to be filled with something, so they asked the crew to stuff dirty
White said Decommissioned was a hit at a recent ARISS meeting. The original SuitSats were
deorbited to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere after their useful lives ended.
[ANS thanks the ARRL for the above information.]
Iodine Thruster Could Slow Space Junk Accumulation
For the first time ever, a telecommunications satellite has used an iodine propellant to
change its orbit around Earth. The small but potentially disruptive innovation could help
to clear the skies of space junk, by enabling tiny satellites to self-destruct cheaply and
easily at the end of their missions, by steering themselves into the atmosphere where they
would burn up. The technology could also be used to boost the mission lifetime of small
CubeSats that monitor agricultural crops on Earth or entire mega-constellations of
nanosats that provide global internet access, by raising their orbits when they begin to
drift towards the planet.
The technology was developed by ThrustMe, a spin-off company from the École Polytechnique
and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and supported by ESA
through its programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES). It uses
a novel propellant – iodine – in an electric thruster that controls the satellite’s height
above Earth. Iodine is less expensive and uses simpler technologies than traditional
propellants. Unlike many traditional propellants, iodine is non-toxic and it is solid at
room temperature and pressure. This makes it easier and cheaper to handle on Earth. When
heated, it turns to gas without going through a liquid phase, which makes it ideal for a
simple propulsion system. It is also denser than traditional propellants, so it occupies
smaller volumes onboard the satellite.
ThrustMe launched its iodine thruster on a commercial research nanosat called SpaceTy
Beihangkongshi-1 that went into space in November 2020. It was test fired earlier this
month before being used to change the orbit of the satellite.
[ANS thanks ESA for the above information.]
AMSAT, along with our ARISS partners, is developing an amateur
radio package, including two-way communication capability, to
be carried on-board Gateway in lunar orbit.
Support AMSAT's projects today at https://www.amsat.org/donate/
Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
No events listed.
Upcoming Satellite Operations
Watch Twitter, there are lots pop-up roves happening lately.
Send your upcoming rover operations to Paul Overn, KE0PBR at ke0pbr at gmail dot com.
+ Upcoming Contacts
Vladivostok, Russia, direct via TBD
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be RSØISS.
The downlink frequency is presently scheduled to be 145.800 MHz.
The scheduled astronaut is Sergey Ryzhikov.
Contact is go for Friday, February 5, 2021 at 08:35 UTC.
Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Ottawa, ON, Canada, multi-point telebridge via
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be NA1SS.
The downlink frequency is presently scheduled to be 145.800 MHz.
The scheduled astronaut is Mike Hopkins KF5LJG.
Contact is go for Friday, February 5, 2021 at 17:41:04.
+ Successful Contacts
Amur State University, Blagoveshchensk, Russia, Direct
The ISS callsign was RSØISS.
The downlink frequency was 145.800 MHz.
The astronaut was Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.
Contact was successful on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 08:25 UTC.
The latest information on the operation mode can be found at
[ANS thanks Charlie Sufana, AJ9N for the above information.]
Satellite Shorts from All Over
+ 35 Years Ago: Remembering Challenger and Her Crew
On Jan. 28, 1986, the astronauts once again boarded Challenger as managers had cleared the
launch despite unexpectedly cold temperatures overnight at KSC. Managers considered
significant ice covering parts of the launch tower as not enough of a concern to delay the
launch. In behind-the-scenes discussions, concerns by engineers about the effects of the
cold temperatures on the integrity of O-rings in SRB segment joints were overruled by
managers who cleared Challenger to launch. Liftoff took place at 11:38 a.m. Eastern time.
As soon as Challenger cleared the launch tower, control of the vehicle shifted from KSC’s
Launch Control Center to the Mission Control Center (MCC) at JSC, where ascent Flight
Director Jay H. Greene and his team monitored the mission’s progress. For the first minute
or so, the launch appeared to proceed normally, with the usual callouts between the crew
and capsule communicator Richard O. Covey in MCC. At 73 seconds after liftoff, controllers
lost all telemetry from Challenger and noticed a fireball on television screens. Stunned
controllers slowly came to realize that the vehicle had suffered a major malfunction that
the crew likely did not survive.
Read the entire article at
[ANS thanks NASA for the above information.]
+ Build a Fully Automatic Amateur and APT Weather Satellite Ground Station
Over on GitHub stdevPavelmc has released his software called FAASGS (Fully Automatic
Amateur Satellite Ground Station). FAASGS is an open source program that allows RTL-SDR
users to set up a satellite ground station that tunes, record and generate images for NOAA
APT weather satellites, as well as records FM amateur radio satellites. The software runs
on a single board computer such as a Raspberry Pi.
Read the full article at https://www.rtl-sdr.com/
[ANS thanks RTL-SDR.com
for the above information.]
+ ‘Another One Leaves The Crust’ Launch Completed By Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab has successfully launched their 18th Electron mission, ‘Another One Leaves The
Crust,’ on January 20, 2021. This is the first mission in a busy launch manifest for 2021,
which includes multiple dedicated and rideshare small satellite missions for government
and commercial customers. This year will also see Rocket Lab launch a Photon mission to
the Moon in support of NASA’s CAPSTONE program.
For the complete story go to
[ANS thanks SatNews.com
for the above information.]
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This week's ANS Editor,
Frank Karnauskas, N1UW
n1uw at amsat dot org
Sent via AMSAT-BB(a)amsat.org. AMSAT-NA makes this open forum available to all interested
persons worldwide without requiring membership. Opinions expressed are solely those of the
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