SSO-A Solar Sails deployed – may be quite bright to naked eye

SSO-A mission's free flyers separating from upper stage of SpaceX's Falcon-9 rocket - credit Spaceflight

SSO-A mission’s free flyers separating from upper stage of SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket – credit Spaceflight

The solar sails on the SSO-A mission “Free Flyer” deployers, launched December 3, 2018 with many amateur radio satellites, are believed to have deployed and may now be quite bright to the naked eye.

Ben Taylor writes:

I represent a team from the University of Surrey in the UK; we have been developing and flying drag de-orbit sails with our first successful demonstration on our InflateSail mission in 2017.

Two dragsail systems were installed on the “Free Flyer” deployers used on the SSO-A launch from December 3, 2018

The free flyers separated from the launch vehicle and in turn deployed multiple satellites each including Microsats and CubeSats over the course of several hours. The Upper Free Flyer (NORAD ID: 43763) is a large structure at approximately 1,000kg and the Lower Free Flyer is approximately 260kg (NORAD ID: 43760). Each Free Flyer hosts one of our 16m2 aluminised kapton sail which was set to deploy 24 hours after launch.

The systems were standalone isolated systems with no communications so we don’t have any telemetry confirmation. Drag parameters from the TLEs are indicative of a successful deployment, but far from definitive. We’re therefore waiting for them to become optically visible in northern latitudes in the next couple of weeks. Based on the experience with our InflateSail mission, we’d expect these objects to be quite bright to the naked eye if the sails have deployed successfully. InflateSail was 10m2 and (initially) transparent with a +4.2 mag, whereas these sails are 16m2 and metalised so could well flare brightly.

Any observations that could be made by the community of either of these objects would be greatly appreciated and they should make for interesting targets.

We are also the team leading the RemoveDebris mission (NORAD ID: 43510) launched from the ISS last year

We have a 9m^2 dragsail installed on this mission too which is planned for deployment next month. Similarly, this should make quite a big change to the brightness of the satellite which could make for some interesting observations.

Best Regards,
Ben Taylor,
Guildford, Surrey, UK

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Track of Upper Free Flyer

Track of Lower Free Flyer

ARISS Slow Scan TV Event Feb 15-17

NOTA ISS SSTV image received in Elgin by Peter Goodhall 2M0SQL February 10, 2019

NOTA ISS SSTV image received in Elgin by Peter Goodhall 2M0SQL February 10, 2019

ARISS is planning another of their popular Slow Scan Television (SSTV) experiment events. Transmissions on 145.800 MHz FM are scheduled to begin Friday, Feb. 15 at 08:45 UT and run through Sunday, Feb. 17 at 17:25 UT.

SSTV operations is a process by which images are sent from the International Space Station (ISS) via ham radio and received by ham operators, shortwave listeners and other radio enthusiasts on Earth, similar to pictures shared on cell phones using twitter or instagram.

When this event becomes active, SSTV images will be transmitted from the ISS at the frequency of 145.800 MHz using the SSTV mode of PD120 and can be received using ham radio equipment as simple as a 2 meter handheld radio or a common shortwave or scanner receiver the covers the 2 meter ham band. After connecting the audio output of the radio receiver to the audio input of a computer running free software such as MMSSTV, the SSTV images can be displayed.

Transmissions will consist of eight NASA On The Air (NOTA) images (see In additional, four ARISS commemorative images will also be included.

Once received, Images can be posted and viewed by the public at . In addition, you can receive a special SSTV ARISS Award for posting your image. Once the event begins, see details at .

Please note that the event is dependent on other activities, schedules and crew responsibilities on the ISS and are subject to change at any time. Please check for news and the most current information on the ARISS Twitter feed @ARISS_status or the AMSAT Bulletin Board

The SSTV images will be transmitted in PD-120 on 145.800 MHz FM using the Kenwood TM-D710 transceiver located in the Russian ISS Service module.

Note the ISS transmissions use the 5 kHz deviation FM standard rather than the narrow 2.5 kHz used in Europe. If your transceiver has selectable FM filters try using the wider filter. Handheld transceivers generally have a single wide filter fitted as standard and you should get good results outdoors using just a 1/4 wave whip antenna.

ISS SSTV links for tracking and decoding Apps

You can receive the SSTV transmissions by using an Online Radio (WebSDR) and the MMSSTV software:
• Listen to the ISS when it is in range of London with the SUWS WebSDR
• Listen to the ISS when it is over Russia with the R4UAB WebSDR

If you receive a full or partial picture from the Space Station your Local Newspaper may like to know

The RSGB produce a handy Media Guide and Template press release for anyone to download and adapt, see

An example of the publicity you can get for the hobby by telling your Local Newspaper

Student from Saint Paul’s School Rajkot receives ISS SSTV

Snehal Vagadia VU3WHO Receiving SSTV Image

Snehal Vagadia VU3WHO Receiving SSTV Image

14-year-old Snehal Vagadia VU3WHO successfully received his first Slow Scan TV image from the International Space Station on Sunday, February 10.



Snehal Vagadia VU3WHO (14), an 8th grade student of Saint Paul’s School, Rajkot, India, received the SSTV Image on February 10, 2019 at 5:33 AM UTC (11:03 AM IST).

It was good ISS pass with 56 deg elevation, strong signal were received using a 3 element Yagi antenna and a VHF HT tuned to 145.800 MHz. SSTV audio was recorded on a smartphone and later decoded with MMSSTV.

He got amateur radio licence at the age of 13 years and learnt ham activities from his father Rajesh Vagadia VU2EXP (Regional Coordinator, West India Zone, AMSAT-INDIA).

Watch the video clip

ARISS / NASA On The Air ISS (NOTA) Slow Scan TV Event February 8-10, 2019

ISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) hints and links

ISS SSTV Image Received by Snehal Vagadia VU3WHO

ISS SSTV Image Received by Snehal Vagadia VU3WHO

Qatar OSCAR-100 web receiver now live

Es'hail-2 Narrowband WebSDR DisplayThe BATC and AMSAT-UK 10 GHz Narrowband WebSDR and Wideband Spectrum Viewer for the amateur radio transponders on the Es’hail-2 / QO-100 geostationary satellite are now available online.

Update Feb. 12: The Qatar Amateur Radio Society (QARS) invites radio amateurs worldwide to use the Es’hail-2 / QO-100 Narrowband transponder in a good manner and make contacts among each other

The Es’hail-2 / QO-100 Teleport Inauguration Day is Thursday, February 14.

Es'hail-2 / QO-100 coverage from 25.9° East

Es’hail-2 / QO-100 coverage from 25.9° East

Qatar OSCAR-100 is the first geostationary amateur radio transponder, a joint project between the Qatar Satellite Company (Es’hailSat), the Qatar Amateur Radio Society (QARS), and AMSAT Deutschland (AMSAT-DL) which provided the technical lead.

OSCAR-100 is hosted on Es’hail-2, a Broadcast Transponder Satellite owned by the Es’hailSat Qatar Satellite Company, the satellite is now in geostationary orbit at 25.9° E.

More information on the OSCAR-100 project can be found at AMSAT-DL Phase 4-A

In co-operation with AMSAT-UK, the British Amateur Television Club will be operating a WebSDR for the narrowband segment, and a Spectrum Viewer for the wideband (DATV) segment.

Goonhilly Earth Station is supporting the project, providing hosting for the Ground Station facility at their world-famous site in Cornwall, UK.

Es’hail-2 WebSDR

Es’hail-2 / QO-100 Teleport Inauguration Day is Thursday, February 14

Es’hail-2 Narrowband amateur radio transponder operating guidelines

Es’hail-2 Wideband amateur radio transponder operating guidelines

Es’hail-2 amateur radio information

See the Satellite Forum for additional information

Es’hail-2 / QO-100 Teleport Inauguration Day February 14

At Es'hailSat Qatar - Credit AMSAT-DLFollowing the successful launch of Es’hail-2, the new Es’hailSat teleport will be inaugurated on February 14, 2019.

AMSAT-DL report:

This will also be the occasion to officially put the two amateur radio transponders of Qatar OSCAR-100, the first geostationary P4-A satellite from Qatar, into operation. The opening ceremony will be held by His Excellency Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, former Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar. A71AU is also the chairman of the Qatar Amateur Radio Society (QARS) and initiator of the first Qatari amateur radio satellite.

Es'hail-2 Geostationary Satellite - credit Es'hailSat

Es’hail-2 Geostationary Satellite – credit Es’hailSat

A team of the P4-A team of AMSAT-DL, consisting of the chairman Peter Gülzow DB2OS, Achim Vollhardt DH2VA and Thomas Kleffel DG5NGI, is on its way to Qatar to set up and commission the P4-A ground segment at the ground station of Es’hailSat. In addition to LEILA and the DVB-S2 DATV system, this also includes a club station for SSB radio operation under the callsign A71A. A backup station is installed at QARS in Doha. The ground station of the AMSAT-DL at the observatory Bochum is also ready for reception and transmission. Later, radio operation via Qatar-OSCAR 100 will also be carried out here under the callsign DL50AMSAT.

During commissioning, we expressly request that you refrain from any transmission attempts!

The SCC in Qatar, as well as Bochum in Germany, are carrying out some tests to measure both transponders and to calibrate the ground systems.

Please also note the beacons sent in the NB transponder. On the DATV beacon of the WB Transponder a video of Es’hail-2 will be broadcast in an endless loop in DVB-S2 format on the opening day.

Es'hail-2 coverage area

Es’hail-2 coverage area

Furthermore, the rules of the game, as defined in the Operating Guidelines for the Narrowband transponder and Wideband transponder are formulated. Please observe the band boundaries of the NB transponder as defined by the upper and lower beacon! A later adaptation and possible extension upwards may be considered after first experiments.

We appeal to patience and to the Ham Spirit: any disruptions during commissioning and on the opening day could result in further postponements of the official release.


Es’hail-2 Narrowband amateur radio transponder operating guidelines

Es’hail-2 Wideband amateur radio transponder operating guidelines

Es’hail-2 WebSDR enables you to receive both the Narrowband and Wideband transponders online

Es’hail-2 amateur radio information

See the Satellite Forum for additional information

Help required in final tests before MarconISSta deinstalled

MarconISSta LogoThe International Space Station MarconISSta experiment will cease on February 9. Martin Buscher DJ1MBB asks radio amateurs with suitable equipment to participate in final tests.

The MarconISSta is a spectrum analyzer payload that monitors parts of the frequency spectrum in VHF, UHF, L and S band from the ISS in order to analyze current use and availability of bands for satellite communication.

Martin Buscher DJ1MBB writes:

We were just informed that it is likely that MarconISSta will be deinstalled on February 9, 2019. This is about three weeks earlier than expected, so we quickly have to finish any outstanding activities. Therefore: All Power To The ISS!

We want to invite everybody who owns a UHF antenna, preferably with an e.i.r.p. of more than 30 dBW, to do transmissions to the ISS. These transmissions will be recorded by MarconISSta and we will publish the results here. This experiment is a nice way for you to test your antennas, while it is great for us and ARISS to evaluate the ARISS VHF/UHF antenna pattern.

Transmission Details:
• Transmission time: Whenever you see the ISS between now and February 9th.
• Frequency: 435-438 MHz. Please avoid 435.95 MHz (our reference frequency) and 436.5 MHz (center frequency of receiver)
• Power: Continuous transmission of carrier, we recommend an e.i.r.p. of more than 30 dBW

Please do not use Doppler correction. We want to see the Doppler shift, it might help us to localize your transmission from this.

Further information