Small satellites: Possible future WRC agenda item

Logo WRC RA 2015The CEPT CPG-PTA-8 meeting in Catania, Sicily, July 21-24, discussed a number of issues related to WRC-15 among them a paper submitted by The Netherlands – Small satellites: further aspects for the development of a future agenda item.

The paper’s summary says:

Following proposals from 12 CEPT members, WRC12 decided to place the subject of nanosatellites and picosatellites on the WRC19 agenda for adoption at WRC15.

Since then a growing number of small satellites, launched year on year has been recorded, and a growing number of diverse applications has been implemented ranging from technology demonstration and research to Earth observation. The applications of these small satellites vary widely, but all of these satellites have one common need which is Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C). Providing for proper TT&C will allow positive satellite control at all times, and, when combined with ranging capability, may provide for orbit determination as well which in turn can aid in the tracking of space objects.

At this moment, the study work under the related agenda item 9, issue 9.1.8 which deals with regulatory aspects for nanosatellites and picosatellites is finished. The studies have indicated a number of difficulties in the application of the Radio Regulations. These difficulties, however, do not justify a change of Articles 9 and 11.

Considering that most bands currently used for satellite telemetry and command such as the 2200-2290MHz SRS/SOS/EESS allocation are heavily crowded, the growth in numbers of small satellites launched offers new challenges which were not faced before. Therefore, the proposal for AI 10 is to invite ITU-R in the forthcoming study period to identify additional allocations to the space operation service (SOS) within the 137MHz-960MHz range. This frequency range is particularly suitable for small satellites since it offers favourable propagation characteristics while allowing moderately complex antenna systems and antenna pointing requirements on board the satellite.

CPG-PTA-8 meeting in Catania, Sicily, July 21-24, 2015

To download the meeting documents:
• Go to
• Click on 2015
• Click on 8th CPG PTA Meeting – 21-24 July – Sicily
• Click Input Contributions and Goto table
• Tick documents
• Click on Minutes and Annexes and Goto table
• Tick documents
• Do same for Annex IV – Draft Briefs, Annex V – Draft ECPs, Annex VI – misc
• Click the Download selected button

SST-US and Virgin Galactic Small Satellite Launches

Virgin Galactic LauncherOne

Virgin Galactic LauncherOne

On July 11, Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC (SST-US) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Virgin Galactic optimizing Surrey’s innovative satellites for Virgin’s new launch vehicle, radically lowering the cost of building and launching small satellites.

This MOU comes on the heels of Virgin Galactic’s announcement of its new ”LauncherOne” program, an unmanned rocket that will be air-launched by SpaceShipTwo’s carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, and that will be capable of delivering as much as 225 kg to low Earth Orbit. SST-US and Virgin Galactic have agreed to work together to provide SST-US, the world leader in small satellite manufacturing, the information needed to build the most powerful spacecraft that LauncherOne can support, giving satellite customers a powerful and affordable option to put their payloads into space.

SST-US is the US operation of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), the pioneer in small and cost effective space missions. The collaboration with Virgin Galactic is expected to involve the development by SST-US of new launcher-optimised satellite platforms, the supply of subsystems to the launch vehicle, and advising on market requirements for launch services.

Dr. John Paffet, CEO of SST-US, commented: “Since we launched our first small satellite in the Eighties, we have been changing the economics of space by leveraging innovation. As our platforms have become an integral part of many space programmes, launching satellites at a cost that is synergistic with the mission programme remains a challenge. We look forward to collaborating with Virgin Galactic on this exciting new venture to develop a solution to this need.”

LauncherOne will be a two stage vehicle capable of carrying up to 500 pounds (225 kilograms) to orbit for prices below $10 million. The rocket will be launched from Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo, the uniquely capable aircraft also designed to carry SpaceShipTwo aloft to begin her suborbital missions. With more than 85 flights completed to date, WhiteKnightTwo has substantially completed her test flight program.

“Virgin Galactic’s goal is to revolutionize the way we get to space,” Virgin Galactic’s Founder Sir Richard Branson said. “I’m immensely proud of what we have already achieved as we draw near to regular suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo. Now, LauncherOne is bringing the price of satellite launch into the realm of affordability for schools, non-profits, and start-ups, in addition to companies and space agencies. This provides a completely new resource to the global research community, letting us learn about our home planet more quickly and more affordably.”

Watch LauncherOne – Furthering the Space Frontier

Watch Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo and LauncherOne take flight

Virgin Galactic LauncherOne


SSTL Press Release

BBC News Report

CubeSats, Isle of Man and STEM in SatMagazine

Topics covered in the July/August issue of the free publication SatMagazine include CubeSats, the space industry in the Isle of Man and Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Erik Mumm’s Insight article Advances In CubeSats Enable New Apps starts on page 56.

The Isle Of Man—Onward, Onward, Onward on page 68 is the third in the series about the space industry in the Isle of Man.

A Video Pathway To Learning starts on page 72 and describes STEM Flix™ which is a new, interactive video series.

Download the July/August 2012 SatMagazine at


How to work the SSB amateur radio satellites such as VO-52

The SSB/CW linear transponder amateur radio satellites such as VO-52 are great fun to work but the technique required is different to that used for the FM satellites.

Simon 2E0HTS has produced a video showing how to make contacts through VO-52.

Using a home-made 10 element 435 and IO Loop for 145MHz, with a Yaesu FT-847. Simon – 2E0HTS, adjusts his (uplink) transmitted signal to correct the Doppler of the received (downlink) frequency whilst talking to fellow Ham operators around Europe. Thanks to the stations worked via the VO-52 satellite which were SP9FPP, PD0HF & SP6DCO.

Watch How To Make A VO-52 SAT QSO

Most linear satellites use what are known as ‘Inverting Transponders’ to reduce the Doppler shift. You transmit lower sideband (LSB) on the uplink and it appears as upper sideband (USB) on the downlink.

When working through linear transponders use as little power as possible, this will help extend the lifetime of the transponder and satellite batteries. As a guide ensure your downlink signal is no stronger than the satellite beacon. Low duty cycle modes such as SSB and CW are recommended.

The band plan for linear satellite downlinks is similar to what you’d expect on the HF bands with CW operation in the lower part of the downlink and SSB in the rest. Current satellite status can be seen at

Since this video was made VO-52 has changed over to its Dutch SSB/CW transponder and now uses these frequencies:
Uplink:         435.2250 – 435.2750 MHz SSB/CW
Downlink:     145.9250 – 145.8750 MHz SSB/CW
Beacon:       145.8600 MHz CW

John Heath G7HIA wrote about operating through VO-52 in his article ‘Getting started on amateur radio satellites’ that was published by the Radio Society of Great Britain in the March 2007 edition of RadCom. Download the article at
Copyright 2007 Radio Society of Great Britain. For personal use only – no copying, reprinting or distribution without written permission from the RSGB.

David A Palmer, KB5WIA, has written an article “Twins!  A Backpack-Portable Full Duplex Satellite Station with Dual FT-817ND’s” that can be seen at

SimpleSatLookDown satellite tracking software

Masat-1 Elliptical Orbit Video

Artists impression of Vega launch

Artists impression of Vega launch

Vega is planned to launch on February 9 from the ESA launch site at Kourou in the Caribbean. It will carry seven amateur radio CubeSats and an amateur radio Microsatellite called ALMASat.

This HD clip shows how one of those CubeSats, Masat-1 (437.345 MHz), is going to orbit around Earth. You can see the satellite establishing contact with the primary ground station at BME, joined by the radio amateurs in Europe and all over the World. The radio contact is possible only if the satellite is above the Horizon at the given location. This is symbolized with thin green lines between the satellite and the ground stations, represented by coloured dots on the Globe.

Everybody is welcome to join in recieving the satellite using the ground station software freely downloadable from the Masat-1 website!

Watch Masat-1 Elliptical Orbit and Pass over European Ground Stations

The Masat-1 Ground Station Client Software was prepared to process the 437.345 MHz GFSK 625/1250 bps transmission received from the satellite Masat-1. The software provides the following functions:

– Audio demodulation
– Packet decoding
– Packet data visualization
– Frequency waterfall plot to aid radio tuning

Download the software and a test WAV file from

Frequencies and links for the amateur radio satellites on Vega are at

IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination pages

2E0HTS Working the OSCAR-7 Satellite

A video from Simon 2E0HTS shows him working F6HRO and DG1EA via the amateur radio satellite OSCAR-7 which was launched in 1974.

His new assistant is showing good radio com skills especially rotating and elevating the satellite antennas.

Watch Simon’s video – AO-7 Satellite QSO (with a little help from my new radio partner)

Simon 2E0HTS Ham Radio Operator Blog

Working the SSB satellites