AO-51 Special Event Station

October 3, 2007 | Amateur Radio | By: Mark VandeWettering

SputnikWell, this is a bit late, but earlier today I read that the amateur satellite AO-51 was going to be a “special event” station. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik I, they were going to rebroadcast the original signal from Sputnik.

ARRLWeb: ARRL Home Page

What’s slightly awesome is that I just stood in my front yard with my cheapie VX-3R dual band transciever, tuned it to 435.300Mhz, attached a simple wire J-pole antenna and waited. And.. heard it! Apparently they decided to put the satellite into a high power mode, so it was dead easy to hear it, the classic “beep beep” sound, followed by the following message:

Congratulations on the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik I.

Local time was 8:16PM or so. It was the first time I’ve ever tried to listen to a satellite. I must admit, I thought it was pretty cool. I’ll be sending in my signal report to get their commemorative QSL certificate.

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Addendum: I stood outside for the pass that was to occur at right around 10:00pm local time, but the maximum elevation of the satellite was only going to be 17 degrees, and I didn’t hear it. Too bad, as this time I had my laptop ready to record it, but all I got was static. Sadness.

Addendum2: This is a nifty article about Sputnik and the role that amateur radio played in early satellite experiments.

Addendum3: Even Google is getting into the celebration today.Google Sputnik

Addendum4: In related news, Richard “Lord British” Garriot owns Sputnik. Okay, more precisely, one of the backup spares made by the Soviets and acquired during an auction in the 1990s. Too cool.

Addendum5: I didn’t get a good recording of the satellite, but Diane VA3DB and Mike VE3FFK did. Thanks to Diane for mentioning this on the irc #hamradio channel on freenode. Shameless plug: Diane also is the creator of HamFreeSBIE, a live CD version of FreeBSD that includes many applications that are useful to hams. Check it out.