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Laser Satellite Comms



The Navy Research Satellite STARSHINE will fly on STS-96 and might have
some potential as a laser reflector for optical comms.  It is a 19 inch
diameter sphere covered with 800 1" flat mirrors.  It will be in a 51
degree orbit so most everyone will see it.  Rotating at about 1 RPM it
will flash sunlight at about a 1 second rate.  Visible at twilight.   At
only 205 miles high, it will only last a few months.

    Although the ability to actually detect a laser at amateur power
levels and optics is miniscule, I just thought someone might want
to calculate the possibiilty.  Because of the flat mirrors and dynamics of
movement, the point-to-point comm possibilities can only exist for
milliseconds each second.  Thus a high data rate burst is needed.

One possibilty might be to use conventional AX.25 packet at 9600 baud.
The shortest possible packet is a few sync bytes, the FROM and TO address
plus a few bytes of data totaling about 30 bytes.  This would take about 
30 milliseconds.  Might work... 

de WB4APR, Bob


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