Amateur radio satellites


Radio amateurs have been involved in space travel for over 50 years

Amateur radio satellites are used for communication between radio amateurs as well as for experimental purposes. The satellites, also known as OSCAR (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio), use frequencies in the VHF, UHF and SHF range.

Radio amateurs have been involved in space travel since the 1960s. Today, they construct small to medium-sized payloads that are installed as piggyback loads on commercial or scientific satellites. The so-called CubeSats, whose payloads are built into a standardized, cube-shaped housing with an edge length of 10 cm and then launched into space, are also very popular.

The first amateur radio satellite was launched on December 12, 1961 under the name OSCAR I, just 4 years after the launch of the first Soviet satellite Sputnik. Although the satellite only remained in orbit for 22 days, the project was a great success, with over 570 radio amateurs in 28 countries reporting their observations to the OSCAR project.

To date, a large number of amateur radio satellites built by AMSAT organizations, amateur radio groups, universities and institutes have been launched and others are nearing completion or are about to be launched. An impressive overview can be found on the website of AMSAT Germany.

In its simplest form, satellite operation requires a handheld FM radio with a small 2m/70cm antenna and information on which satellite can be heard when. In the complex form, this is then a multimode transceiver with rotating and swiveling antennas, paired with low-noise receiving amplifiers. Due to the low orbits of the satellites, good knowledge of the operating technology and information on the transit times, which are provided by numerous computer programs, are an important key to success.

The first point of contact in German-speaking countries for club membership and further information and help is AMSAT-DL, a non-profit organization for the support of amateur satellite radio.

Thomas Frey HB9SKA

Video “With AMSAT P5_A to Mars”

The OSCAR Story

Further information

Satellite Operating Frequencies AMSAT Link
Real Time Satellite Tracking Link
Current Satellite Status (English) Link
Satellite Documentation and Telemetry Information (Source DK3WN) Link
OSCAR-News, Bulletin on AMSAT and HAM-Space (Source HB9SKA) Link