July 22, 2001

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AO-40 Update

AO-40 command station Stacey Mills, W4SM, recently posted on the AMSAT-NA bulletin board what many stations were looking for - AO-40 transponder operation was again underway!

W4SM announced the U/L1 to S2 passbands were again active from MA=10 through MA=99. The current ALON/ALAT will give some very low squint angles (especially in the Northern Hemisphere) that should provide excellent signals.

W4SM also reported that on orbit 328/329, the magnetorquer system took AO-40 to the limits of the solar sensors, with a solar angle of about 48 degrees. As soon as lock was lost, effective torquing stopped. "We also now have an extremely good fix on AO-40's current position," reported W4SM: ALON/ALAT = 325.5/6.2 (+/- 0.2 degs)

This is in very good agreement with our computer simulations, as well as other sensor data.

According to W4SM, LEILA-2 (not LEILA-1) is active. It appears that the thresholds for LEILA-2 are slightly different than for LEILA-1, so some adjustments are needed. RUDAK tests are currently scheduled for Orbit 339. The passbands will be off for this orbit and the S2 beacon may be intermittently off as well. In the near future, W4SM reports command stations will be testing the S1 transmitter passbands during times of optimal squint angle. The higher gain of the S1 antenna should give better signals farther out in the orbit, as long as the squint angle is good.

AMSAT Awards Manager Bruce Paige, KK5DO, in Houston, was among the first stations to get on AO-40 after the transponders were reactivated. "It sounds awesome," Paige said. "I am transmitting with 25 watts up, and it sounds great!" In addition to some domestic contacts, he and his daughter, Mahana, W5BTS, worked EA8/DJ9PC in the Canary Islands. Dave, WB6LLO reported great signals from AO-40 as the transponders went active. Dave worked VE3NPC and 4X1AS, in addition to stations in Japan and Australia. Jerry, W6IHG, reported making 12 contacts. Renato, CE3XK, was also active, working several stations with received downlink signals around S5.

The AMSAT-DL web site is currently featuring an AO-40 status summary format at

Stay tuned to ANS, the official source of AO-40 information.

[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA and AMSAT-DL for this information]

AMSAT-NA President's Letter


It is with great pleasure that I write to you this month and talk about the progress being made with our next satellite project, currently known as "Project JJ".

Recently, a meeting was held in Denver, Colorado, attended by twenty of AMSAT-NA's designers and officers. Their main objective was to begin implementation of this project, as mandated by the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors. While it is not my intention in this letter to go into every detail about the meeting, it is important to note that one very significant decision made was to make every aspect of this new satellite (as it is being designed) completely available to the AMSAT community. By every aspect I mean every drawing (including schematics), every piece of code and all telemetry details, etc. The only details which will not be released are those which would possibly endanger the security of the spacecraft when in orbit (should hackers become active on the bird), and any proprietary commercial data (which I don't think that there will be much, if any, of). In other words, Project JJ will be your satellite!

Yes, this new project will be an "open concept" design and the project committee will welcome your constructive feedback as the project progresses. In fact, I am pleased to announce that Paul Williamson, KB5MU, will be posting all project information on the AMSAT-NA web page and Russ Tillman, K5NRK, will be writing an initial article for the AMSAT-NA Journal - with more articles planned as we progress. I am also pleased to announce that Lyle Johnson, KK7P, and Chuck Green, N0ADI, have agreed to act as joint managers at the start of this project.

As with any project it is always wise to review, and learn from, previous projects. Accordingly, at the Denver meeting a review of the Phase 3 series of satellites was undertaken. Discussion took place on advantages and disadvantages, things we want to repeat and things we can improve on. Such a review is a very valuable part of the design process.

Some of the decisions made at the meeting included:

1) Sideband uplinks on L and U bands with a S-band downlink;

2) Digital communications (TDMA) L-band uplink with S-band downlink;

3) V-band telemetry beacon;

4) Gain antennas for U, L, and S-bands;

5) Omni-directional antennas (for initial commands);

6) Propulsion system only if absolutely necessary. This is a function of yet undetermined launch dynamics and may require some form of cold gas propulsion system for perigee adjustment. A decision on this will be made in the near future.

Now to the important question of finance.

It is quite apparent that the days of inexpensive launches is over, especially if we want a good, reliable launch, which I'm sure we all do. Therefore, it is imperative that we immediately commence a fund raising effort for a launch (currently estimated) for early 2004. I encourage you to become a President's Club donor at either the $100/month (Gold) or $50/month (Silver) level. In addition, a meeting of the AMSAT-NA Development Committee will take place in mid-August with the main objective of determining the best way to raise the necessary funds and to coordinate the fundraising effort itself.

Meanwhile, you can take the initiative by calling Martha at the AMSAT-NA office and give her your details for President's Club Membership! Remember -- AMSAT donations are tax deductible in the U.S.

Martha can be reached during normal business hours at +1(301)589-6062.

Again, this will be your satellite!

Robin Haighton, VE3FRH
President, AMSAT-NA

[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, for this information]

STS-104 Mission Continues

The Space Shuttle Atlantis has spent the past week docked to the International Space Station as the main mission of delivery of a new doorway to space has gone very well.

On Tuesday, Shuttle and station crews set aside work on a leaky ventilation valve and pressed forward with activation of the new Quest airlock. Preparations for the second space walk of the flight also took place. Mission Specialists Mike Gernhardt and Jim Reilly completed the objective of mounting a high-pressure oxygen and high-pressure nitrogen tanks late Tuesday/early Wednesday. It was the 66th space walk in shuttle program history, and the 23rd devoted to International Space Station assembly. So far, STS-104 space walks have lasted 12 hours, 28 minutes.

Atlantis Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi and Expedition Two Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms installed the hatch between Quest's crew lock and equipment lock on Wednesday. The hatch was then tested for leaks for more than eight hours.

On Thursday, Atlantis' engines were fired in a series of pulses during a one-hour period to boost the station's altitude in the third and final reboost scheduled for this mission. Atlantis will leave the station later this week about 10 miles higher than when it arrived.

On Friday, the third spacewalk of the mission took place as Mission Specialists Mike Gernhardt and Jim Reilly attached a fourth and final supply tank to the airlock's exterior. Tasks added to Friday's space walk included an inspection of one of the station's solar array swivels and inspection of the Floating Potential Probe that measures plasma levels around the solar arrays. Also on Friday Atlantis and International Space Station crewmembers marked the 32nd anniversary of the first human steps on the moon by completing another phase of station construction. Atlantis spacewalkers Mike Gernhardt and Jim Reilly floated out of the station's new Quest airlock, completing airlock activation and marking the beginning of independent operations aboard the space station.

On Saturday, Atlantis began preparations to undock from ISS. It is very interesting to note that since July 2000, 77 tons of hardware has been added to the station, including the Zvezda module, the Z1 Truss Assembly, Pressurized Mating Adapter 3, the P6 Truss and its 240-foot long solar arrays, the U.S. laboratory Destiny, the Canadarm-2 and the Quest airlock.

Atlantis is currently scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida late Monday morning. Another landing opportunity is available on the subsequent orbit, which would see Atlantis touch down Tuesday afternoon. Though the outlook was improving, although forecasts for landing time still carried the possibility of clouds and rain.

[ANS thanks NASA for this information]

ANS in Brief

ANS news in brief this week includes the following:

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS . RS-12 . RS-13 . RS-15 . AO-10 . UO-11 . UO-14 . AO-16 . DO-17 . WO-18 . LO-19 . FO-20 . UO-22 . KO-23 . KO-25 . IO-26 . AO-27 . FO-29 . TO-31 . GO-32 . SO-33 . PO-34 . SO-35 . UO-36 . AO-40 . SO-41 . SO-42

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at, or to ANS Editor Dan James, NN0DJ, at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT  News Service editor Dan James, NN0DJ.