April 28, 2002

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New AMSAT-NA OSCAR Under Construction

AMSAT-North America has started construction of a new low-earth-orbit (LEO) communications satellite. Although the satellite will be similar in mass and size to the original AMSAT MICROSAT design, it will incorporate all new, leading edge electronics and RF technology.

Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, AMSAT-NA President, discussed the new project at the organization's Board of Directors meeting held in Washington, DC, April 20-21, 2002. "I am very pleased that we are embarking on a brand new satellite project. I am particularly pleased that this new project will operate as an EZ Sat, as well as serving as a test bed for new and exciting technologies." he said.

Returning to the original pre-launch numbering system used in many of the earliest AMSAT-NA developed satellites, the new "bird" will be named AMSAT-OSCAR E (Echo) until launch. Plans call for the satellite to contain analog and digital VHF/UHF FM transponders similar to those carried on the UOSAT-OSCAR 14 and AMRAD-OSCAR 27 satellites currently in orbit. In addition, the new satellite will have the capability to host one or two other experimental payloads.

Continuing an approach used in past projects, AMSAT-NA has partnered with an outside contractor, SpaceQuest, Ltd. of Fairfax, Virginia, who will assist in building the satellite bus. AMSAT volunteers are responsible for the design, development, integration and testing of the various experimental payloads.

Dr. Tom Clark, W3IWI, AMSAT-NA BOD member and one of the "spark plugs" for the original MICROSAT project noted that, "The last major program that AMSAT-NA managed was the MICROSATS and this is a superb chance for us to update that legacy with all-new technology." He went on to note that, "We now have accumulated about 70 years of on-orbit experience with the MICROSAT design since our original flock were launched back in 1990, with several other satellites of that same basic design now on the drawing boards. The design is a true classic."

The spacecraft is now slated to be ready for launch in late 2003. A number of affordable launch opportunities are being actively explored.

AMSAT is very proud of its long tradition of excellence and the contributions it has made to the advancement of space communications, space education and the space sciences. AMSAT-OSCAR E will be a new vehicle for amateur radio to continue that quest for communications technologies for future generations.

[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA Vice President Keith Baker, KB1SF, for this information]

New AMSAT-NA Services

AMSAT-NA's Executive Vice President Keith Baker, KB1SF, recently announced that AMSAT-NA is now accepting orders for AMSAT's various printed, hardware and software items on-line, via a secure credit card link. In addition, a new toll-free number at AMSAT-NA Headquarters in Maryland has been launched to help make telephone ordering of these offerings that much easier.

"These two order simplification efforts have been in the planning stages for a long time," KB1SF said. "With heartfelt thanks to the superb efforts of a number of our super-talented volunteers, our dreams are now a reality." Keith singled out the ongoing, "behind the scenes" work of Paul Williamson, KB5MU, AMSAT-NA's webmaster, as well as the efforts of Bob Carpenter, W3OTC (along with Martha at the AMSAT office) as particularly noteworthy in bringing these long-needed improvements to AMSAT's member support activities.

As ANS readers know, AMSAT-NA is a non-profit corporation, and as such, offers various informational and promotional items to members and others in exchange for monetary donations. These donations, in turn, help fund the organization's satellite building and launching efforts as well as help cover day-to-day operating expenses.

The new on-line ordering system now makes it easier for members to order these items than ever before. Overseas members will find the new system particularly helpful, as it avoids the need for them waiting until AMSAT's Silver Spring offices open or placing expensive long-distance telephone calls when ordering. Now, such orders can be taken and accepted on-line at any time, day or night, from anywhere in the world.

Members and others interested in using the new on-line service can do so simply by clicking on the AMSAT Catalog link at the bottom of the main AMSAT-NA web page and then following the prompts and appropriate links from there. The final checkout page uses full security encryption and accepts both VISA and MasterCard credit cards.

KB1SF reports that members and others who still wish to place their orders "the old fashioned way" (via telephone or by mail) can continue to do so. Those calling from the continental USA, however, can also now take advantage of a brand new toll free ordering number at AMSAT-NA Headquarters.

The new number is: 1-888-322-6728.

[ANS thanks Executive Vice President Keith Baker, KB1SF, for this information]

ISS Mission Underway

A Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan recently, carrying a multinational crew to the International Space Station. Russian Commander Yuri Gidzenko, Flight Engineer Roberto Vittori (of the European Space Agency) and South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth successfully rocketed away from the central Asian launch site in their Soyuz TM-34 craft.

Shuttleworth is a South African Internet entrepreneur flying under contract with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency. He will spend almost eight days on the station, conducting experiments and educational activities.

Shuttleworth is scheduled will make four live contact with South African schools during his flight. Contacts are scheduled with the Diocesan School for Boys, the Kwazulu-Natal school, the Gauteng school (in Johannesburg) and the Western Cape school.

Shuttleworth received a special temporary, (honorary) amateur radio station license. The license contains an unusual callsign - ZS RSA. He has already spoken to South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was celebrating Freedom Day in Bloemfontein, South Africa, via a live (non-amateur radio) satellite link-up from ISS.

More information on the second space tourist and some of the research he will be doing is available at

[ANS thanks NASA and the ARISS group 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 . RS-21 . 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 . NO-44 . MO-46

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.