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Space Science

Satellite Celebrates 20 Years Working in Orbit 199

Posted by michael
from the retirement-age dept.
lloydwood writes "The UoSAT-2/UO-11 small satellite was launched into low Earth orbit on 1 March 1984 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Twenty years later, it's still in orbit and operational -- and we recently found launch footage. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of starting in orbit, the original video celebrating the UoSAT-2 launch is available (in windows media and mpeg). Thrill to the computers, the clothes, and the haircuts of 1984. SSTL has launched more than twenty satellites since."
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Satellite Celebrates 20 Years Working in Orbit

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  • by Rorschach1 (174480) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:48PM (#8433978) Homepage
    The Oscar 7 [amsat.org] satellite was launched from the same place in 1974. It spent about 20 years dead in space after its batteries shorted, before it started working again out of the blue.

    Incidentally, that launch pad [spaceflightnow.com] is about 3 miles from where I'm sitting. I can see it if I climb up on the antenna tower on the roof, but management got mad last time I did that to watch a launch.

  • Re:Umm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bob dobalina (40544) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:48PM (#8433979)
    Since we only ever talk about satellites when they break, it seems only fair.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:49PM (#8434000)
    I'm 'working' from home as we speak, but I'm not doing one damn thing useful.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:51PM (#8434014)
    http://www.spaceimagingme.com/content/Constellatio n/Landsat/index.asp

    Launch Date March 1, 1984
    Launch Vehicle Delta 3920
    Launch Location Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
    Weight 1938 kg

    Pheakin' bird was inctruckingcredibly sturdy.

  • Life expectancy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by milgr (726027) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:53PM (#8434043)
    So what is the life expectancy for this satelite?
  • Re:FIRST POST! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:59PM (#8434092)

    I must post this anonymously.

    I was a junior engineer on the UoSAT-2/UO-11 project. Early into the project a group of military people visited us. We were asked various odd questions. This exchange in particular remains strong in my memory:
    Military Man: Can we mount a laser into this satellite?
    My Boss: No way, that'd require a lot of reenforcement of the tube chamber (back then we didn't have solid state).
    Military Man: You could compensate with more fuel for launch. I'll approve it myself.
    My Boss: But.. a laser? What size are you talking about and for what?
    Military Man: [leans to assistant, whispers back and forth] We can tell you but your juniors [myself and 2 co-workers] will have to leave. [we did]

    my boss left the project immediately and worked on a secret payload project overseen by the military. Whatever that bird has in it, it's looking down at us.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:01PM (#8434125) Homepage
    Remember the PS/2's? I remember looking forward to them!

    Perhaps the kid with his 2-year-old PS2 will have a greater appreciation for a functioning 20-year-old satellite when he has some gear of that age himself.

  • 20 years is nothing. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gavin Scott (15916) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:15PM (#8434225)
    What about the amazing story of the Amateur Radio satallite Ostcar 7 that was launched in 1974, operated for six years, then died due to a shorted battery, only to re-awaken from the dead [arrl.org] in 2002 after 21 years of silence.

    So we have satellites that work after having been dead longer than your satellites have been alive.

    Nyeah.

    G.
  • What about Iridium? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Aumaden (598628) <`Devon.C.Miller' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday March 01, 2004 @06:26PM (#8434818) Journal
    If the UoSAT-2/UO-11 is still functioning after 20 years, why was there such a rush to deorbit [spaceandtech.com] the Iridium satellite constellation?
  • Landsat 5 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vsprintf (579676) on Monday March 01, 2004 @06:42PM (#8434962)

    Well, as long as we're celebrating, today is the 20th anniversary of the launch of Landsat 5. If you want to talk about a work horse, it has been returning Earth observation data used by scientists everywhere for two decades as well. It just might outlive its successor.

    Landsat 5 [spaceimagingme.com]

  • by Stalke (20083) on Monday March 01, 2004 @06:46PM (#8435003)
    This satellite is barely past middle age. A quick google [google.ca] search finds that AO-7 [eham.net] is the oldest working satellite and it will turn 30 this year. Mark your calendars boys and girls. November 15 is the day when the _real_ excitement starts. I'm starting an iCal shared calendar right now so I don't forget it!
  • by cr@ckwhore (165454) on Monday March 01, 2004 @07:43PM (#8435449) Homepage
    AMSAT-UK is issuing 1000 special edition QSL cards to radio amateurs world-wide that submit signal/reception reports from the satellite during the month of March. Super-special edition QSL cards are given to radio amateurs who submit signal reports on March 1 (today), the satellite's anniversay.

    For the non-ham-operators among us, a QSL card (not SQL) is basically a post-card that hams send each other after making contact.

    So earlier today, remembering that I had read about the March 1st QSL cards, I pulled up my handy sat prediction software (PREDICT) along with the equally handy gsat client, updated keplerian elements, synced my pc's time so I could achieve the most accurate predictions possible.

    Had a good pass of UO-11 with about 50 degrees at elevation at 3:45 this afternoon (20:45 UTC) ... went out to the jeep and hooked my quad-band Yaesu VX-7R into a 5/8th wave magmount antenna (2-meter band) hoping to get the best possible reception I could with my gear. Adjusted for frequency doppler, and BAM! There it was... I had UO-11's telemetry on 145.825 ... got nice and loud during mid-pass ... record a WAV file of the telemetry when the signal was at it's best. When the sat was exiting my half of north america, I was still faintly hearing the telemetry on 145.820, adjusted down for doppler.

    So, of course, I submitted my signal report to AMSAT-UK this afternoon. They're going to verify my data, and I get a gold star when they're done. Today, I reached a new pinnacle of geekdom. Long live the hams!

    de N1ZPP

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