The first amateur radio satellite OSCAR 1 was launched 50 years ago on December 12, 1961.
OSCAR 1 was battery powered and signals lasted for about two weeks. It re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on January 31, 1962.
The AMSAT News Service is re-running the Project OSCAR Newsletters to commemorate the 50th anniversary of OSCAR 1.
The Newsletters were hand-typed back in 1961. Thanks to Don Ferguson, KD6IRE for scanning the original documents announcing OSCAR 1.
This is from the newsletter produced on that historic day and reproduces the historic telegram sent by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) with the news that OSCAR 1 had been received in the United Kingdom.
O S C A R N E W S L E T T E R
December 12, 1961
OSCAR SATELLITE IN ORBIT
At 2041 GMT, 12 December 1961 the Oscar satellite was hurled into orbit by the Discoverer XXXVI launching vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The satellite immediately went into a North-South orbit and was picked up loud and clear by the hams at KC4USB (Marie Byrd Base) at the South Pole a few minutes after launch. The word was quickly relayed back to the Oscar Tracking Station, K6QEZ, by W4ABY. Acquisition was also obtained by hams at Kodiak, Alaska and by KH6UK in Hawaii on the first pass.
Oscar is on a frequency between 144.990 and 145.008 and has tremendous c.w. signal strength on a direct, overhead pass! Tracking reports have begun to flow into the Center. W1AW heard the first pass S9 over the East coast.
The following telegram was received by the Center from the RSGB:
OSCAR HEARD 0055 GMT X KEYING OK X STRENGTH NINE PLUS X DOPPLER SEVEN KC X FURTHER DATA AIR HAIL X.
Orbit is being computed, but insufficient time has elapsed to permit predictions to be made of time Oscar will pass over your area. Listen to W1AW and the Voice of America for orbital predictions. Continuous 24-hour a day monitoring is essential until predictions are established. In fact, this monitoring is urged to check for unpredicted reception at times when the Oscar satellite is theoretically out of range! Our thanks to the Air Force and men of Vandenburgh AFB who helped to make this historic milestone possible!
Actual launch was attended by W6SAI, K6LFH, W6MLZ and W0TSN. Full Oscar story in February QST and CQ and more details in our next news letter!
Listen to an original audio recording of OSCAR 1 here
The February 1962 edition of QST carried several articles on OSCAR 1. Our thanks to ARRL for permission to post them here.
AMSAT-UK publishes a colour A4 newsletter, OSCAR News, which is full of Amateur Satellite information. Free sample issue at http://www.uk.amsat.org/on_193_final.pdf Join online at http://tinyurl.com/JoinAMSAT-UK