Prospero X-3 Satellite Blog

An exciting spectrogram trace is revealed in the blog about the United Kingdom’s Prospero X-3 satellite that celebrated 40 years in orbit last month.

Prospero X-3 was the UK’s first satellite to be put into orbit by a UK-built rocket, Black Arrow. The launch took place from Launch Area 5B, Woomera on October 28, 1971 and the satellite operated successfully until 1973 after which it was contacted annually until being de-activated in 1996. In September 2011 a team from the  Mullard Space Science Laboratory announced their intention to try and re-activate the satellite.

In his blog Roger J A Duthie M0RJA notes the assistance the team has received from those in the Amateur Radio community including the AMSAT-BB mailing list, Roger reports that Tony Abbey G3OVH supplied a spectrogram, with a special Doppler shift correction added, of the radio transmission he received on 137.560 MHz . The team found that in this spectrogram, there was a signal from a source with a Doppler signature exactly matching the predicted signature of Prospero!

Read the Prospero X-3 blog at

Prospero 40th Anniversary

PE0SAT – Prospero

AMSAT-UK publishes a colour A4 newsletter, OSCAR News, full of Amateur Satellite information. A sample edition of the newsletter can be seen at
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Android App to Fly on STRaND-1 Smartphone Satellite

When a competion was run to find Apps  to fly on the Smartphone CubeSat STRaND-1 one of the wining entries was an App which was a spin-off of the work done by the AMSAT-UK FUNcube team. See the story at:

A detailed article on STRaND-1 appeared in a recent edition of the newsletter OSCAR News published by AMSAT-UK. It can be downloaded from

The video of a presentation on STRaND-1 is at

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OSCAR-9 and OSCAR-11 TV News Reports

The original TV news reports about the United Kingdom’s first Amateur Radio satellites, UOSAT-1 (OSCAR-9) and UOSAT-2 (OSCAR-11), can now be seen on the web.

In ‘Talking Satellite’, made February 15, 1983, Martin Sweeting G3YJO talks about OSCAR-9 and its speech synthesizer.
The ITN description reads: “The World’s first talking satellite begins to speak. It was launched 18 months ago in America for the University of Surrey and one of its purposes is to encourage interest among school children in space technology.
Watch it at

In ‘British Satellite’, made February 7, 1984, Martin Sweeting G3YJO talks about OSCAR-11 due to be launched the following month.
The ITN description reads: “Staff at the University of Surrey have designed and built a spacecraft in 5 months after being challenged by NASA.  Intvw Dr Martin Sweeting, University of Surrey.
Watch it at

30th anniversary of UoSAT-1 (OSCAR-9)

UoSAT-2 (OSCAR-11) Report September 1, 2011

OSCAR News is published quarterly by AMSAT-UK and posted to members.
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Prospero 40th Anniversary

Attempts are being made to reactivate Prospero, the United Kingdom’s first satellite launched on a UK-built rocket, Black Arrow, on October 28, 1971. It is hoped Amateur Radio operators will be able to provide recordings of the signals on 137.560 MHz.

On October 19, Roger M0RJA provided details of tests to be carried out over the following two weeks:

Some of you may have heard that a team in the UK are trying to re-contact an old British launched satellite for the anniversary of its launch (28th October 1971).

We’ve been given a licence to transmit [on the 148.25MHz command uplink] and will be testing our re-engineered ground-segment in the next fortnight.  The passes we are going to concentrate on will be as far out west as possible, as to minimise QRM from Europe.  Earth is a lot more EM noisy than it was in 1971.

If anyone wants to try and tune in to the downlink, you can help ID any response we get from the old bird. To avoid interference the downlink is only planned to be active when the satellite is in range of the United Kingdom. The passes [times UK local = GMT+1] are summarised here:

There are other passes, though these are the ones which are out west.  We’ll see how we do.

Update Oct 23:   A recording would be grand.  We may have heard something on Friday [Oct 21], though we’re still piecing together what we can expect.  If recordings are made of the times when Prospero is to pass then we can get an idea of what everyone is hearing now.

On Friday we listened to a complete pass and definitely heard something different when Prospero was in our vicinity.  Whether this was coincidence with some QRM we don’t know.  As long as others aren’t transmitting at the same time as us on the Prospero frequencies, we have a reasonable chance to apply the scientific method to be certain of what we’re listening to.

We probably won’t make another attempt till Monday [Oct 24] – and we will probably try the passes at around 1800. [UK Local (GMT+1)]

There is information on this on the AMSAT-UK site front page:  this includes the passes we’ve marked out for definite attempts (we may try others) and there are some archived recordings of Prospero to compare to.

Roger J A Duthie M0RJA
Email: rjad at

N2YO Prospero predictions
VK3UKF Prospero real-time oribtal tracking

ITN TV news video of Prospero

Audio recordings of the 0.3 watt phase modulated signal with 2048 bit/s PCM from Prospero on 137.560 MHz can be heard on the Sounds from Space site of Matthias Bopp DD1US

Experiments on the Prospero satellite

Plan to revive 1970s UK satellite on 137.560 MHz

Wiki – Prospero

John Wright G4DMF says the Prospero satellite was featured in a BBC show called “Coast” Series 2 Episode 1 Dover to Isle of White. The item titled ‘Isle of Wight – UK’s Space Race of the 60’s’ showed an attempt to receive the signals using what appeared to be an AR2000. The show also dealt with the research into the propellants, and the launch from Australia.
Roger M0RJA says he thinks that what was received on Coast was almost certainly an Orbcomm transmission. Orbcomm was assigned the Prospero frequency.

OSCAR News is published quarterly by AMSAT-UK and posted to members.
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30th Anniversary of UoSAT-1 (OSCAR-9)



Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) celebrated the 30th anniversary of the launch of Surrey’s first satellite, UoSAT-1. Launched into orbit on October 6, 1981, UoSAT-1 was designed and built by a team from the University of Surrey led by SSTL founder Sir Martin Sweeting, G3YJO.

UoSAT-1 was also known as UoSAT-OSCAR 9. It was a scientific and educational low-Earth orbit satellite containing many experiments and beacons but no amateur transponders. UO-9 was fully operational until it re-entered October 13, 1989 from a decaying orbit after nine years of service.

UO-9’s mission scored several firsts for technology which would be incorporated into future amateur satellite missions including:

+ The first on-board computer (IHU – Integrated Housekeeping Unit)
+ Battery and attitude management
+ Remote control, and experiments
+ First S-band beacon
+ It carried a CCD camera, a Digitalker speech synthesizer, and transmitted telemetry data on a 145.826 MHz beacon at 1200 baud using asynchronous AFSK.

UoSAT-1 team at Vandenberg Air Force Base

UoSAT-1 team at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Amateur Satellite Operators are also familiar with later SSTL UoSAT developments:

+ UoSAT-2 was designated as UO-11 which can still be heard operating on 145.825 MHz with a beacon transmitting 1200 baud using asynchronous AFSK.

+ UoSAT-3 was designated as UO-14 (no longer operational) and featured an FM Voice Repeater with 145.9750 MHz uplink and 435.0700 MHz downlink.

More history can be found in an interesting article posted on the website:

Read the SSTL Press Release

The UoSAT-1 Technical Handbook lists these contributors to the project:
Telecommand System and Flight Configuration – Dr. Martin Sweeting G3YJO, UOS/AMSAT-UK
Power Systems – Jerzy Slowikowski, UOS/AMSAT-UK
Telemetry – Dr. Lui Mansi, UOS/AMSAT-UK
Data Beacons – Bob Haining, UOS/AMSAT-UK
Antenna Systems – Tony Brown, UOS/AMSAT-UK
Navigation Magnetometer – Christine Sweeting G6APF, UOS/AMSAT-UK
Spacecraft Microcomputers – Chris Haynes, UOS/AMSAT-UK
HF Beacons – Colin Smithers G4CWH, UOS/AMSAT-UK
CCD Camera Imaging – Dr Paul Taylor, UOS/AMSAT-UK

UoSAT-1 – OSCAR-9 story in Daily Mail Newspaper Archive

Thanks to ANS and SSTL for the above information

Winners of Space App Competition announced

The AMSAT-UK FUNcube team are among the winners in a competition to fly an Android App on the amateur radio Smartphone satellite STRaND-1 due for launch next year.

Space technology experts from Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) and the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) at the University of Surrey announced on Wednesday the four lucky winners of the ‘Space App Competition’ who will see their Android Applications run on smartphone-powered satellite STRaND-1, due for launch into space next year.

‘The STRaND Data’ app will show satellite telemetry on the smartphone’s display which can be imaged by an additional camera on-board. This app is developed by the team behind the AMSAT-UK FUNcube satellite and will not only enable new graphical telemetry to interpret trends but also provide a last way of communicating with the smartphone.

Read the SSTL Press Release at

Read about the UK Smartphone STRaND-1 satellite in the Spring 2011 edition of OSCAR News at

New Scientist – Space apps: smartphone at heart of satellite mission

OSCAR News is published quarterly by AMSAT-UK and posted to members. To get your copy join AMSAT-UK online at

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