July OSCAR News now available

2024-07 Oscar News Front CoverE-members of AMSAT-UK can now download the July 2024 edition of OSCAR News, issue 244, here.

The paper edition edition will be sent to postal members and should arrive in the next 2-3 weeks.

In this issue:
• From the Secretary’s Keyboard
• Satellite News
• ARISS International Face to Face Meeting 2024 and 40th Celebration of Amateur Radio on Human Spaceflight by Ciaran Morgan, M0XTD
• QO-100 School contacts by John M5JFS
• FUNcube+ AMSAT-UK’s Next Mission by David Bowman, G0MRF
• Assessing Path Loss Due to Weather in Newfoundland by David Bowman, G0MRF
• VO1/M0XUU Operation from Newfoundland by R. Gopan M0XUU
• The QO-100 Challenge from VO1 by Graham, G3VZV
• VO1NAR Beacon by Graham Dillabough, VO1DZ

In ON245 we will continue with articles on the QO-100 Challenge from the VO100QO

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch

Membership of AMSAT-UK is open to anyone who has an interest in amateur radio satellites or space activities, including the International Space Station (ISS).

E-members of AMSAT-UK are able to download the quarterly publication OSCAR News as a convenient PDF that can be read on laptops, tablets or smartphones anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Join as an E-member at Electronic (PDF) E-membership

PDF sample copy of “Oscar News” here.

Join AMSAT-UK using PayPal, Debit or Credit card at
http://shop.amsat-uk.org/

E-members can download their copies of OSCAR News here.

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The Myth that Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was a Radio Amateur

Every few years the myth that Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was a radio amateur crops up again. This myth started in the early 1980’s and has been debunked numerous times since but it still appears on websites listing “Famous Hams”.

Martin Davidoff, K2UBC, posted this on the AMSAT Bulletin Board in 2002:

This note is in response to several related comments that appeared on the AMSAT-BB last week. Since not everyone reading this BB was radio active back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s I’ve included some background
information.

The earliest known statement suggesting that Yuri Gagarin was a Radio Amateur appeared in the March/April 1981 issue of Orbit magazine, the primary publication of AMSAT-NA at the time. It was in an article by Joe Kasser, G3ZCZ, [the editor of Orbit] titled “A History of Radio Amateurs in Space — Part 2”. The article stated that Yuri Gagarin, the first person to fly in space, was UA1LO.

The evidence provided for this assertion was a QSL card from UA1LO to W8DX confirming a QSO on May 19, 1962 signed “Yuri”. Figures in the Orbit article showed several Russian stamps, and a photo, all featuring Gagarin. Joe never stated that the stamps or the photo were from the back of the QSL card but the reader could easily make that assumption. Joe later reported that the stamps were from his collection. I believe that the photo was on the flip side of the QSL and that the card was probably via the famous Box 88, Moscow.

Needless to say, the article caught my attention. However, after reading it carefully I concluded that this was just a typical UA QSL from the early 60’s. I felt that the fact that the operator happened to be named “Yuri”, a relatively common name, and that the Gagarin photo appeared on the back of the card didn’t justify the conclusion that UA1LO was Gagarin. I have to admit that it occurred to me that, in the QST tradition, the article was an “April Fool Feature” (check the publishing date).

Several months after the Orbit article appeared I ran into Joe at an AMSAT Meeting in the MD/DC area and asked him if the article was true. Since this is more than 20 years ago and I have trouble recalling what happened last week I don’t fully trust my memory as to his response but I do remember concluding that the UA1LO – Gagarin connection was probably not valid. Joe states that based on the information he had available at the time he believed the statement to be true — the article was NOT an April Fool Feature.

Shortly after his famous flight into space (April 12, 1961) Yuri Gagarin was declared a “Hero of the Soviet Union” by the government. This is an honor of the highest order awarded to citizens making outstanding contributions to Soviet culture and life. Perhaps more important, Gagarin was truly regarded as a hero by the general population. Shortly after his flight photos of Gagarin were widely distributed all over the Soviet Union, especially to youth groups and in schools. It’s very likely that picture postcards with the famous photo were widely circulated.

At the time it was common practice for individual Soviet hams (those with their own stations) to produce QSL cards using linoleum block printing over, or on the flip side of, photo’s of famous people, places or works of art. [At the time most UA activity was from club stations].

Last week I read with great interest the AMSAT-BB note from Frank Cahoy, K0BLT, concerning his 1961 QSL from UA1LO (dated August 18, 1961) with the photo of Gagarin on the back. Frank sent me a scanned copy of the QSL and a translation (thanks to K5OE) of the text printed on the card. The card itself was somewhat different from the one W8DX received but it tends to support the contention that the cards sent to W8DX and K0BLT are generic QSL’s featuring a photo of a very popular Soviet hero from an operator who happened to be named “Yuri”.

The scan of K0BLT’s QSL appears to be a stock postcard featuring a photo of Gagarin with “UA1LO Leningrad” added using Linoleum block (or similar) printing techniques. The Cyrillic text, lower right on the address side, is characteristic of standard postcard printing.

I’d like to clearly state that there is absolutely NO reason to suspect that UA1LO had any intention of misleading anyone as to his identity. He was simply following common everyday procedures and it probably never occurred to him that his card might cause confusion.

I understand that shortly after Joe’s 1981 article appeared there was an article or editorial by Wayne Green, W2NSD, which also mentioned the “fact” that UA1LO was Yuri Gagarin. I have not seen this article so I don’t know if it contains any additional facts. I assume that it is based entirely on Joe’s comments. If anyone has information to the contrary please make it public.

For those of you not familiar with Wayne let me say that over a period of several decades he was a very well known and influential commentator on Amateur Radio. His articles, editorials and speeches were often informative and provocative; they were always interesting. However, as a journalist, Wayne made it clear that he considered fact checking a waste of time and he never let facts ruin a good story. I’m sure that he’d have a good laugh if he knew he was being quoted as an authority on a question concerning historical accuracy.

Leo Labutin, UA3CR, was a key figure in the group of Soviet Radio Amateurs that built and arranged for the launch of the early RS satellites. In about 1989 he made his first trip to the U.S. and I had the opportunityof meeting his Aeroflot flight and acting as his host for a few days before we flew to Atlanta for the AMSAT convention. During the visit I asked him if he knew whether Gagarin was a Radio Amateur — specifically if he were UA1LO. Leo replied that he knew of NO evidence that Gagarin was a Radio Amateur. [His wording was a little more colorful]. I did NOT ask Leo if he knew Gagarin or UA1LO personally so you can choose to consider his comments to be hearsay evidence.

During the mid 1970’s and early 1980’s I had the opportunity to see numerous copies of RADIO, the primary hobby magazine covering electronics and Amateur Radio in the Soviet Union. One of the goals of the magazine was to encourage young people to develop an interest in technical areas by presenting interesting projects and by describing achievements of prominent Russians involved in exciting technical programs. I believe that if Gagarin was UA1LO the fact would have been mentioned often in RADIO. I NEVER saw any mention of Yuri Gagarin being a Radio Amateur in the magazine. Since the sample of issues I saw was limited you are free to conclude that the information in this paragraph is irrelevant.

Over the years the statement that Gagarin was UA1LO continues to resurface. To the best of my knowledge no significant new evidence has appeared during this time.

So — Was Gagarin UA1LO?

My opinion (and it is only my opinion) is that based on the available evidence it’s extremely unlikely that Gagarin was UA1LO. But I am not 100% certain and I am always looking for new “facts”.

In the 22 years since that was posted no-one has been able to provide any evidence that Yuri Gagarin was in any way involved in amateur radio.

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AMSAT Argentina to launch transponder balloon

AMSAT-LU Launching a High Altitude BalloonOn May 26, at 1300 GMT AMSAT-LU plans (weather permitting) to launch a balloon carrying a linear multimode transponder V➤U, CW, SSB, FM, APRS LU7AA-11 and VIDEO.

It could last 9 hours if it reaches 82,000 feet height landing in Uruguay, or 6 hours landing at Gualeguaychú. The flight has been approved by ANAC/EANA.

Flight forecast: http://lu7aa.org/pronostico.asp?callsign=LU7AA-12

An attempt will also be made to launch LU8YY PicoBalloon emitting WSPR at 20m, if the winds help it could go around the world.

In Merlo, from May 24 to 26, presentations will be made to schools and universities. Depending on the weather it could be launched on May 25.

This experience will provide 4 FM channels + 3 CW + 3 SSB + 1 digital channel and 1 SSTV, all simultaneous. It will allow field testing on a balloon the future satellite platforms planned by AMSAT Argentina.

For latest updates check http://amsat.org.ar/?f=merlo

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Newfoundland QO-100 contact Successful – More Planned

First Newfoundland contact via QO-100 between VO1/M0XUU and G0MRF

First Newfoundland contact via QO-100 between VO1/M0XUU and G0MRF

On Saturday, May 11, 2024, Gopan VO1/M0XUU (VU3HPF) succeeded in making the first contact from North America through the amateur radio QO-100 geostationary satellite transponder located at 26° East.

Gopan's Screenshot of First Newfoundland QO-100 Contact

Gopan’s screenshot of first Newfoundland QO-100 contact

Gopan was in Newfoundland which is just outside the coverage area of QO-100, the elevation at Signal Hill at St. Johns is below the horizon at -0.9°. He used FT-8 to have a trans-atlantic contact with David G0MRF in south-west London.

In a post on X Gopan reported his signal into QO-100 was not strong enough to permit SSB operation.

Graham G3VZW testing QO-100 equipment before Newfoundland Dxpedition with David G0MRF

Graham G3VZW testing QO-100 equipment before Newfoundland Dxpedition with David G0MRF

David G0MRF will be joining Graham G3VZV on a Dxpedition to Newfoundland from May 15-19 and plans to be active on QO-100 using SSB / CW / FT8 / FT4 / DATV.

A video of the presentation ‘Making QO-100 contacts from North America – A new challenge’, given by Graham G3VZV at the 2022 AMSAT-UK Colloquium can be seen at
https://amsat-uk.org/2022/11/01/making-qo-100-contacts-from-north-america-a-new-challenge/

QO-100 North America CertfificateAMSAT-UK issue a special Certificate of Achievement for QO-100 contacts made from North America.  Applications should be sent to awards@amsat-uk.org

Full details of the award in this Word Document

You can follow posts on X at:

Gopan M0XUU – https://X.com/vu3hpf
David G0MRF – https://X.com/g0mrf
Graham G3VZV – https://X.com/G3VZV

Stefan VE4SW reports he will be traveling to Newfoundland and will be using the callsign VO100QO on QO-100 from May 13-17, he writes:

“VO100QO a special callsign for the activation of QO-100 from St John’s in Newfoundland will be used by the “Amateur Radio Satellites and Systems – Canada” Association starting Monday, May 13, at Signal Hill or another suitable location (weather permitting). Canadian amateur radio operators Stefan Wagener VE4SW and John Langille VE1CWJ will use a 1.8m dish and up to 100W on SSB to reach QO-100 at -1 degree elevation.

We invite all stations and operators in or near St John’s to join us in person and be part of the story. We will operate from Monday, May 13th to Friday, May 17th (weather permitting). Contact VE4SW (email on my QRZ page) for local information and timing.

The “Amateur Radio Satellites and Systems—Canada” Association will issue special certificates for successful contacts, and all QSOs will be logged into LoTW. Please see our “VO100QO” QRZ page for updates starting Sunday, May 12.

We would very much like to acknowledge the support of “DX Patrol” in Portugal (https://dxpatrol.pt) and António Matias for his support. We will use the DX Patrol QO-100 Groundstation V2 and other equipment for our attempt!”

Follow Stefan VE4SW on X – https://X.com/StefanWagener3

Information on QO-100 is at https://forum.amsat-dl.org/index.php?board/3-qo-100-es-hail-2-p4-a/

FT-8 QO-100 contact between Gopan VO1/M0XUU and TA4SO

FT-8 QO-100 contact between Gopan VO1/M0XUU and TA4SO

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Newfoundland on QO-100 ?

QO-100 North America CertfificateDuring May there are plans for two separate attempts to make contacts from Newfoundland using the QO-100 geostationary satellite amateur transponders.

Newfoundland is just outside the coverage area of QO-100, the elevation at Signal Hill at St. Johns is -0.9°, however, contacts have been made from Indonesia at an elevation as low as -1.3° so there is a chance of success.

Gopan VO1/M0XUU (VU3HPF) will be in Newfoundland from May 8-15 and will attempt to make QO-100 contacts.

David VO1/G0MRF and Graham VO1/G3VZV will be in Newfoundland May 15-19 and plan to be active on QO-100 using SSB / CW / FT8 / FT4 / DATV.

You can follow posts on X at:

Gopan M0XUU – https://X.com/vu3hpf
David G0MRF – https://X.com/g0mrf
Graham G3VZV – https://X.com/G3VZV

Video of the presentation ‘Making QO-100 contacts from North America – A new challenge’, given by David G0MRF at the 2022 AMSAT-UK Colloquium
https://amsat-uk.org/2022/11/01/making-qo-100-contacts-from-north-america-a-new-challenge/

Information on QO-100 is at https://forum.amsat-dl.org/index.php?board/3-qo-100-es-hail-2-p4-a/

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