November 16, 2003

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New AMSAT Appointments

I am pleased to announce the appointments of two appointments as AMSAT Officers.

Ed Long WA4SWJ has been appointed to the position of Editor of The AMSAT Journal. Ed is fully conversant with the software which we use for the Journal. He is an electrical engineer and has been a ham for over 30 years. Currently living in Williams Bay, WI, Ed is a native of Arizona. Journal articles may be sent to Ed via the Journal mail box

Jim Jarvis N2EA has been appointed as AMSAT Manager of Marketing. He is multi-lingual being fluent in French and German as well as English. Jim has 20 years international business development experience and a formal background in strategic marketing. Much of Jim's marketing activities have involved the engineering environment. All AMSAT marketing proposals should be sent to Jim for "Synchronization and compliance with other AMSAT marketing efforts"

On your behalf, I welcome both Ed and Jim to their current positions. Ed is already working on the November/December issue of the Journal while Jim has started reviewing the "ECHO Launch Fund Campaign"

Robin Haighton VE3FRH
President AMSAT-NA

[ANS thanks Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, for the above information.]

UO-14 Satellite Declared Dead

The UO-14 satellite has been declared officially dead. The Mission Control Centre at the Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) Center for Satellite Engineering Research reports that the venerable and popular bird "has reached the end of its mission after nearly 14 years in orbit." Launched in 1990, UoSAT-OSCAR-14 pioneered the PACSAT communication concept as the first 9.6 kbps amateur radio data communications satellite, although it became best known in recent years as an FM "easy sat" repeater.

"Since launch, UO-14 has completed over 72,000 orbits and as many charge/discharge cycles of its on-board NiCd battery," said AMSAT-UK Chairman Martin Sweeting, G3YJO. "However recently one of the battery cells has become exhausted and can no longer support continuous operation of the repeater." Sweeting said UO-14's transmitter shuts down shortly after it is commanded "on" due to undervoltage, so the microsatellite's mission has been terminated.

"Thank you UO-14 for your long service!" Sweeting concluded.

AMSAT-NA Board Member Bruce Paige, KK5DO, an enthusiastic UO-14 user, called the AMSAT-UK announcement "sad news." He said the loss of UO-14 leaves amateurs with SO-41 and SO-50 as the only two LEO FM voice satellites now in operation, although he noted that the planned 2004 launches of the OSCAR-Echo and VUSAT could help fill in the void.

The popular and heavily used FM satellite quit working in August, but hope remained within the amateur satellite community that UO-14 somehow could be revived. Ground controller Chris Jackson, G7UPN, at one point was able to reset the satellite, but he later determined that UO-14 had suffered a primary power system failure that was causing the spacecraft to shut down during some eclipses.

During its active lifetime, UO-14 served several roles. After some 18 months in orbit as a PACSAT, UO-14 was switched to non-amateur frequencies for humanitarian use by Volunteers In Technical Assistance, which used it for messaging into Africa. After the store-and-forward communications computer proved no longer able to perform that task, UO-14 was turned back to amateur use as a single-channel FM voice repeater, the role for which it was best known. UO-14 worked as an "FM bent pipe repeater satellite" in full duplex mode.

UO-14 again served a humanitarian role in early 2001 when hams assisting with earthquake relief operations in the Indian State of Gujarat took advantage of the satellite to provide communication from the stricken region.

The beauty of UO-14 was that it required minimal gear to make contacts--typically 5 W and modest antennas would do the trick. Operators with dualband handheld transceivers and "rubber duckie" antennas often could make QSOs via UO-14.

AMSAT-NA has said that its new Echo satellite, planned for launch next March 31, will take over the role of the now-defunct AO-27 and UO-14 low-Earth-orbiting satellites.

[ANS thanks ARRL for the above information.]

ARISS Announces Roy Neal, K6DUE, ISS Commemorative Event

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) international team has announced an on-the-air event to commemorate Roy Neal, K6DUE, who died August 15. ARISS has requested that the ISS Expedition 8 crew of commander Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Alex "Sasha" Kaleri, U8MIR, communicate from space with earthbound radio amateurs during the November 29-30 weekend. Those contacting the ISS by voice (NA1SS) or packet (RS0ISS) through the end of December will be eligible for a special anniversary event certificate.

"Our good friend and noted NBC news correspondent Roy Neal, K6DUE (SK), had a vision---to make amateur radio a permanent feature on human spaceflight missions," said ARISS Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, and Sergej Samburov, RV3DR, in making the announcement.

A retired NBC News science correspondent, producer and executive, Neal--born Roy N. Hinkel--chaired the Space Amateur Radio EXperiment (SAREX)/Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Working Group. Through his extensive NASA contacts, Neal was instrumental in convincing NASA management to fly amateur radio onboard the space shuttle, Bauer said. He also credited Neal with being instrumental in forming the ARISS international team and moderating its gatherings.

Human spaceflight took the first step to Neal's vision on November 28, 1983, with the launch of the first amateur radio station aboard the space shuttle Columbia. A few days later, astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL, became the astronaut to speak from space via ham radio.

In October 1988, a Russian amateur radio team led by Sergej Samburov, RV3DR, and Larry Agabekov, UA6HZ/N2WW, launched and deployed the first amateur station on the space station Mir. During the AMSAT-NA symposium the following month, Leo Labutin, UA3CR (SK), communicated with cosmonaut Musa Manorov, U2MIR, aboard Mir.

Amateur radio communication from the ISS began three years ago this month. On November 13, 2000, Expedition 1 crew members Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, and Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL, spoke with R3K, the Energia amateur station in Russia, and with NN1SS, the ISS ground station at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The successful deployment and use of the ARISS gear marked the first permanent amateur radio station in space--and the fruition of Neal's vision of some two decades earlier.  "On behalf of the ARISS international team, we congratulate the international amateur radio community on these exceptional accomplishments and commemorate Roy Neal, K6DUE, for his vision and tremendous support to ARISS team," Bauer and Samburov said.

ARISS request that participants in the special event keep all contacts short. A subsequent announcement will provide details on QSLing and how to obtain certificates.

[ANS thanks ARRL for the above information.]

Voyager near edge of solar system

Voyager 1 is doing some cosmic surfing, riding a boundary called the termination shock as it nears the edge of the solar system. It's the first spacecraft to fly so far. Scientists don't agree on exactly why solar winds suddenly slowed around Voyager for about six months starting in summer 2002. The spacecraft may have crossed the fluctuating boundary where the solar system begins to push up against interstellar space.

"This is a totally new region, and that's the reason you see this scientific discussion going on, as people explore how to understand this unusual nature of these observations," said Voyager project scientist Edward Stone of California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The twin Voyager craft launched in 1977 from Cape Canaveral to explore the outer planets. Their nuclear power supply should work until 2020. Scientists hope their instruments will last that long and that Voyager 1 will reach interstellar space while it can still send back data.

The solar system is nestled in a kind of bubble in which the sun is king, the heliosphere. Supersonic solar winds radiate out from the sun, creating this bubble, and where they start to hit interstellar forces and suddenly slow down is called the termination shock.

Although Voyager 1's solar wind instrument stopped working in 1980, scientists inferred from other data that the solar wind slowed dramatically in August 2002. There were indications that the spacecraft was amid interstellar matter, as well, said Stamatios "Tom" Krimigis of Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory.

His team found during that time, Voyager 1 traveled beyond the termination shock into the heliosheath, the outer envelope of the heliosphere. Then it was overtaken by the boundary and was back among the supersonic solar winds.

The University of Maryland's Frank McDonald, however, said there should have been other significant changes if Voyager hit the shock.

"This is sort of a Lewis and Clark space expedition," McDonald said. "We're in the foothills, and we'll soon be getting to the mountains, in our view."

Either way, both teams of scientists think Voyager is on the edge of the bubble and moving out. It is now nearly 8.4 billion miles from the sun.

"I think we'll be surfing along the shock and see it a number of times, and as we do, we will confirm what is the signature of the shock," Stone said.

Beyond the heliosheath is interstellar space. After Voyager 1 crosses the termination shock, it could take several years for the craft to pass through the heliosheath and finally leave our solar system. Voyager 2, on a different path, will take even longer to get there.

It is thought that as our solar system passes through clouds of material in our Milky Way galaxy, it creates a bow shock beyond the heliosphere, the way a ship creates a bow wave.

It's important to know the nature of this material, said Jet Propulsion Laboratory research scientist Merav Opher, because it helps determine the shape and size of our solar system.

With Voyager, she said, "it's like we're piercing a hole in the curtain that separates us from the rest of the galaxy."

[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

Enlarging EU looks to ultimate frontier

The European Union could launch a bold push into space under proposals unveiled Tuesday to meet intensifying competition for mastery of the skies beyond the Earth.

In a white paper called "Space: A New European Frontier for an Expanding Union", the European Commission called for an independent EU presence for space research, security and exploration.

Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin noted that China had last month sent a man into space, while even Brazil and India were looking at carving out their own roles in space independent of the United States or Russia.

"The development of Europe's capabilities in satellite communications, global positioning and Earth observation will boost applications and have important social, economic and commercial benefits for Europe," he said.

The white paper was presented in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA), an independent body closely linked to the EU that has launched a succession of satellite payloads from French Guiana.

While the EU is expanding its sights beyond the Earth, it is not planning its own manned mission in the wake of the breakthrough by China.

Indeed, the white paper has a business-minded approach, extolling the virtues of investment in space technologies mainly for their commercial and employment spin-offs.

The market for satellite navigation services and related products around the world is growing by 25 percent a year and could reach 100 billion euros by 2010, creating 40,000 skilled jobs in Europe, according to Brussels.

Busquin said satellites would be pivotal to maintaining Europe's technological competitiveness with the United States, noting the ubiquitous role of the technology in modern life from mobile phones to television.

The EU has won Chinese and Indian investment for its Galileo satellite navigation system, which will rival and likely outperform the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States.

The Commission white paper, to be presented to EU member states on November 23, lists six additional priorities for the EU:

The release of the white paper was timely as the 15-nation EU debates a new constitution to get it in shape for the entry of 10 more member states next year.

Space is one of the areas where member countries will have "shared  competence" with the EU, giving Brussels a major say in the shaping of policy.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

New AMSAT Journal Editor

The AMSAT Journal has a new Editor in Chief. He is Ed Long, WA4SWJ, of Peoria, AZ and Williams Bay, WI. Ed is a member of AMSAT and has been a licensed amateur radio operator since 1970 currently holding an Advanced class license. He formerly held the callsigns WN8IKV and WB8IKV. Originally from Charleston, WV he holds a BSEE from West Virginia University and an MBA from Duke University. He is currently employed by SPX Process Equipment in Delavan, WI as Manager, Lean Enterprise. Ed can be reached at Article submissions for the AMSAT Journal can be sent to him. Ed is assuming editorial responsibility with the Nov/Dec issue of the Journal.

[ANS thanks Ed Long, WA4SWJ, for the above information.]

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS. RS-12. RS-13. RS-15. AO-7. AO-10. UO-11. UO-14. AO-16. LO-19. FO-20. UO-22. KO-23. KO-25. IO-26. AO-27. FO-29. GO-32. SO-33. PO-34. UO-36. AO-40. SO-41. SO-42. NO-44. NO-45. MO-46. AO-49. SO-50

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT News Service Editor Scott Lindsey-Stevens, N3ASA,