ANS-348 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins for Dec. 13th

The AMSAT News Service bulletins are a free, weekly news and information service of AMSAT, 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 publishes news of Amateur Radio in Space as soon as our volunteers can post it.

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to: [email protected]

You can sign up for free e-mail delivery of the AMSAT News Service Bulletins via the ANS List; to join this list see:

In this edition:

  • AMSAT-BB has migrated email server
  • Launch Window for AMSAT’s RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E Opens December 19th
  • Robots Dominate Space News This Week
  • SpaceX’s Starship SN8 soars on test launch with explosive landing
  • The Great Conjunction is coming on December 21, 2020
  • ARISS News * Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over
  • Tips for the New Operator Mobile Apps 2

SB SAT @ AMSAT $ANS-348.01
ANS-348 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins

AMSAT News Service Bulletin 348.01
DATE 2020 December 13
BID: $ANS-348.01

AMSAT-BB has migrated email server

AMSAT’s IT team has been working to upgrade the Mailman software that supports mailing lists (aka reflectors, listserv, BB, etc). This upgrade became necessary for several reasons, one of which was the release of a new major revision of the Mailman software itself. The new version of Mailman has many improvements, including: an updated web UI, management of all list memberships with a single account, and a web UI for searching and browsing archives.

The upgrade requires existing mail list users to sign up for a “new” account, which will be used to manage their existing list subscriptions and preferences. This will also require everyone to validate their preferences, aliases (if any), etc. Most existing preferences from the previous version of Mailman did not migrate. Please see the procedures below. Please contact [email protected] with any questions or concerns regarding this upgrade.

Procedures to to sign up for the new Mailman service were sent to all AMSAT-BB subscribers. Please read the PDF attached to the email. Matt, KM4EXS adds this reminder in a follow up email: Please use the “Sign Up” option, using the email address that you use for your subscriptions. That process will link the “new” account to all your existing subscriptions. You can then set your digest preferences as you like.

[ANS thanks Matt Alberti / KM4EXS / AMSAT-IT Volunteer for the above information]

Launch Window for AMSAT’s RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E Opens December 19th December 2, 2020

Virgin Orbit has announced that the launch window for their LauncherOne Launch Demo 2 mission opens on December 19th. This launch will carry AMSAT’s RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E to orbit.

RadFxSat-2, like RadFxSat / Fox-1B, now AMSAT-OSCAR 91, is a partnership opportunity between Vanderbilt University and AMSAT and will carry a similar radiation effects experiment, studying new FinFET technology. RadFxSat-2 is the fifth and final Fox-1 satellite built by AMSAT. The RadFxSat-2 spacecraft bus is built on the Fox-1 series but features a linear transponder “upgrade” to replace the standard FM transponder in Fox-1A through D. In addition, the uplink and downlink bands are reversed from the previous Fox satellites in a Mode V/u (J) configuration using a 2 meter uplink and 70 cm downlink. The downlink features a 1200 bps BPSK telemetry channel to carry the Vanderbilt science data in addition to a 30 kHz wide transponder for amateur radio use. Telemetry and experiment data can be decoded using FoxTelem version 1.09 or later. FoxTelem is available at:

Participation in telemetry collection by as many stations in as many parts of the world as possible is essential as AMSAT Engineering looks for successful startup and indications of the general health and function of the satellite as it begins to acclimate to space. AMSAT will send a commemorative 3D printed QSL card to the first station capturing telemetry from RadFxSat-2.
Uplink LSB 145.860 MHz through 145.890 MHz
Downlink USB 435.760 MHz through 435.790 MHz
1.2kbps BPSK telemetry 435.750 MHz

Launches on ELaNa XX – Virgin Orbit LauncherOne Launch Demo 2.

[ANS thanks Paul Stoetzer, Contributing Editor ANS News Service for the above information]

Robots Dominate Space News This Week

Two groundbreaking robotic sample return missions dominated much of the space news this week. A capsule holding grains of rock and dust sampled from asteroid Ryugu hit the Earth’s atmosphere at 11.6 km/s and safely parachuted into the Australian outback. Hayabusa2 launched on Dec. 3, 2014, took four years to reach Ryugu, then did a bunch of science (including shooting it with a tantalum bullet and dropping numerous deployables on the body—here’s a detailed PDF about the mission), before returning with ~100 mg of samples, having covered a total of 5.24 billion kilometers. The mission isn’t over for Hayabusa2 though—it’s now headed toward asteroid 1998KY26 for humanity’s first rendezvous with a fast rotating asteroid in 2031 and a flyby of 2001CC21 along the way.

After 19 hours of drilling and scooping samples, Chang’e 5’s ascent vehicle spring-launched and then blasted off, returning to lunar orbit carrying ~2 kg of regolith. It successfully rendezvoused with the return vehicle, transferred the sample, and the return vehicle has embarked on its multi-day return trip. These will be the first lunar samples returned since the 70s and the first sample return mission for China. The rendezvous of the ascent vehicle and the return segment used microwave radar that was accurate down to 0.1° and able to lock on to a circle with a 3.33 cm radius.

The cost to train deep neural networks is decreasing at 50x Moore’s Law, leading many to believe that machine learning, while very much in its infancy, will see many more space applications in the near future. Cutting edge applications, such as making autonomous decisions because throughput or speed-of-light delay prevent humans from doing so, have already been demonstrated, and more are on the horizon.

[ANS thanks The Orbital Index for the above information]

SpaceX’s Starship SN8 prototype soars on epic test launch, with explosive landing

SpaceX’s Starship spaceflight system just took a big step on its path to Mars. The latest Starship prototype, a shiny silver vehicle known as SN8, launched on an epic high-altitude test flight today (Dec. 9), taking off at 5:45 p.m. EST (2245 GMT) from SpaceX’s facility near the South Texas village of Boca Chica.

The goal was to soar about 7.8 miles (12.5 kilometers) into the sky, perform some complex aerial maneuvers — including a “belly flop” like the one the final Starship will perform when coming back to Earth on operational flights — and then land safely near the launch stand. The 165-foot-tall (50 meters) SN8 appeared to notch all of these big milestones, except for the final one: The vehicle hit its landing mark but came in too fast, exploding in a dramatic fireball 6 minutes and 42 seconds after liftoff. Additional information and video available

[ANS thanks Mike Wall of for the above information]

The Great Conjunction is coming on December 21, 2020

In their closest encounter since 1623, Jupiter and Saturn appear as a single star in the evening sky next month. All through the summer and into the fall, the two gas giants of the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, have been calling attention to themselves in the southern evening sky. Jupiter of course, always appears brilliant and is usually one of the brightest nighttime objects, but in recent months it has stood out even more than usual because of the presence of bright Saturn trailing just off to its left (east). Appearing about one-twelfth as bright, Saturn has, in a way, served as Jupiter’s “lieutenant” in this year of 2020. This will be the first time since 1623 that this event will be seen. Additional information is on: [ANS thanks Joe Rao of for the above information]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMSAT office is closed until further notice. For details, please visit

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ARISS NEWS for the week of 9 December, 2020

ARISS has posted a special anniversary message and a video celebrating our 20th Anniversary on the ARISS Web Page:

An ARISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) event is scheduled from the International Space Station (ISS) for late December. This will be a special SSTV event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ARISS. The event is scheduled to begin on December 24 and continue through December 31. Dates are subject to change due to ISS operational adjustments.

The latest information on the operation mode can be found at
The latest list of frequencies in use can be found at
Upcoming Contacts:

Oregon Charter Academy, Mill City, OR, telebridge via VK4KHZ (Shannon
Walker KD5DXB) Tue 2020-12-15 19:00:49 UTC 32 deg
The following schools have now been postponed/cancelled due to COVID-19:

Postponed: No new schools
Cancelled: RO-SAT One, Piatra-Neamț, Romania, direct via YRØISS

Note, all times are approximate.  It is recommended that you do your own
orbital prediction or start listening about 10 minutes before the listed

All dates and times listed follow International Standard ISO 8601 date
and time format YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
The complete schedule page has been updated as of 2020-12-08 16:00 UTC.
Here you will find a listing of all scheduled school contacts, and
questions, other ISS related websites, IRLP and Echolink websites, and
instructions for any contact that may be streamed live.

[ANS thanks Charlie Sufana, AJ9N and David Jordan AA4KN, of the ARISS operation team mentor group 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

Upcoming Satellite Operations

Note from  KE0PBR ****Watch Twitter, there are lots pop-up roves hap-
pening lately, and I can’t keep this page updated with all of them.****

@N4DCW will be working passes from EM87 Dec 10-13. Click link to check
for details:

@KL7TN: DM67/68: If my plans still hold up, Dec 12-13 for DM67/68 is on
my radar.

@AD7DB: DM22 : Dec 17-20 Maybe DM13,23,32 Holiday Style on FM sats.

No Major Roves are listed.

Please submit any additions or corrections to KE0PBR (at)

[ANS thanks Paul Overn, KE0PBR, AMSAT rover page manager, for the above information]

Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events

<No update listed this week>

[ANS thanks Clint Bradford, K6CLS for the above information]

Satellite Shorts From All Over

Happy birthday to OSCAR 1 -Age 59!
+ The first amateur satellite, simply named OSCAR (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio), was launched on December 12, 1961, barely four years after the launch of the world’s first satellite of any kind, Sputnik I. The satellite had to be built in a very specific shape and weight, so it could be used in place of one of the weights necessary for balancing the payload in the rocket stage. OSCAR 1 was the first satellite to be ejected as a secondary payload (the primary payload was Discoverer 36) and to subsequently enter a separate orbit. Its orbit decayed quickly, yet despite orbiting for only 22 days, OSCAR 1 was an immediate success. More than 570 amateur radio opera tors in 28 countries forwarded observations to Project OSCAR (predecessor organization to AMSAT). (ANS thanks The Year in Space for the above information)

+ SpaceX won $885.5 million in broadband subsidies the FCC awarded pro viders Dec. 7 under its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase 1 auction. SpaceX’s share of the funding is one of the largest among the 180 winning bidders. The FCC will distribute the $9.2 billion in RDOF funding over the next 10 years to help the winning providers bring broadband service to some 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses in rural parts of the United States. (ANS thanks for the above information)

+ SpaceX launched its upgraded Cargo Dragon spacecraft on Dec. 6. Based on Crew Dragon (basically stripped of seats, life support equipment, abort motors, and navigation interfaces), this was their 21st commercial ISS resupply mission. This version of Cargo Dragon is certified for five flights compared to its predecessor’s three, and it conducts automated docking instead of Canadarm-captured berthing. (ANS thanks The Orbital Index for the above information)

+ There may still be time to participate in the last part of the 2020 Open Source CubeSat Workshop. The workshop provides a forum for Cube Sat developers and CubeSat mission operators to meet and join forces on open source projects. The focus of this year’s workshop is on sharing of ideas and open collaboration, even when confined at home. The target audience is academia, research institutes, companies, and individuals. The event takes place 12 and 13 December, 13:00 17:00 UTC each day: (ANS thanks Libre Space Community for the above information)

+ Surprisingly clear videos of the Arecibo Observatory collapse are now available, one from a drone that was actively inspecting a cable dur ing the event and the other from a camera in the control room. A de tailed frame-by-frame analysis is available at: (ANS thanks The Orbital Index for the above information)

+ GEOMAGNETIC STORM December 10, 2020
A coronal mass ejection (CME) occurred heading for Earth early in the week., and geomagnetic storms were forecast to occur when it arrived on December 9th and 10th. NOAA forecasters downgraded their possible G3 warning. Unfortunately for Skywatchers, auroras that were could originally thought possible as far south as Illinois and Oregon were not seen farther south than the northern tier. On the other hand satellite surface charging issues and HF propagation have remained unaffected without the blackouts typical of these disturbances. An interesting discussion of the reasons for this “non-event” is on Dr. Tamitha Skov’s YouTube/Patreon channel at:  (ANS thanks and Dr. Skov for the above information)

+ Next Rocket Lab launch delayed due to weather
Due to weather over the range this week at LC-1 RocketLab are now targeting no earlier than Monday, 14 December UTC for #TheOwlsNightBegins mission. Terry ads in a follow up note: “There is a solar eclipse on Monday that may affect the mission so the launch is delayed until Tuesday.”  See:
Target lift-off: UTC | 09:00 –  10:59
(ANS thanks Terry Osborne, ZL2BAC for the above information)

+ Samples of asteroid Ryugu arrive in Japan after successful Hayabusa2 capsule landing on Dec. 5  Japanese scientists are thrilled to finally have asteroid samples  arrive Monday (Dec. 7) after a long flight from Australia — and a  much longer journey through the solar system.  An aerial shot of the Hayabusa2 return capsule and parachute after  its landing on a bush in the Woomera Prohibited Area, Australia.  Those rocks originate on a near-Earth asteroid called Ryugu; the  Hayabusa2 spacecraft snagged them in 2019 before a yearlong journey  to deliver them to Earth in a small sample-return capsule. The capsule landed on Dec. 5 in the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia, creating a stunning fireball in the pre-dawn skies.
Japanese scientists on site successfully tracked down the capsule  and collected the precious cosmic delivery to begin the final leg of  its journey. See additional information and photos at:
(ANS thanks Meghan Bartels and for the above information)

Tips for the New Satellite Operator Mobile Apps 2

This is the third of a what I hope to be a monthly New Satellite Operators Corner. I will offer AMSAT New Operator tips and links to AMSAT resources for new operators and posts from various interest groups where useful info is published. This weeks tip comes from Rick, WA6NDR via [email protected]. I hope you find this as useful as I have. Jack, KD4IZ, Editor, AMSAT News Service. <Mini-Reviews of two apps: SpaceLaunchNow and Orbitrack (ANS thanks ___ for sharing this information)


In addition to regular membership, AMSAT offers membership in the President’s Club. Members of the President’s Club, as sustaining donors to AMSAT Project Funds, will be eligible to receive additional benefits. Application forms are available from the AMSAT Office.

Primary and secondary school students are eligible for membership at one-half the standard yearly rate. Post-secondary school students enrolled in at least half time status shall be eligible for the student rate for a maximum of 6 post-secondary years in this status. Contact Martha at the AMSAT Office for additional student membership information.

73 and Remember to help keep amateur radio in space, This week’s ANS Editor, Jack Spitznagel, KD4IZ

kd4iz at amsat dot org