Summer 2006 Issue


AMSAT’s Vision – P3-E and Eagle

By Keith Pugh, W5IU

The AMSAT forum and the AMSAT booth activity at the Dayton Hamvention® this year featured progress reports on fulfillment of AMSAT’s Vision, originally stated in 2004: “Our Vision is to deploy high earth orbit satellite systems that offer daily coverage by 2009 and continuous coverage by 2012...” Fulfillment of this vision will include the launch of P3-E and at least two Eagle satellites. Progress reports on these projects along with the Software Defined Transponder (SDX) are given below.


P3-E was started soon after the loss of AO-40 by AMSAT-DL as a means of getting back into high earth orbit as quickly as possible and as a test bed for the German Mars Orbiter Mission. The concept is to borrow as much from AO-10, AO-13, and AO-40 as possible, update it with current technology, and secure a launch to high earth orbit as soon as possible, currently envisioned as sometime in 2007. Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, president of AMSAT-DL, prepared an excellent presentation on the current status and plans for this project. At Dayton, Rick Hambly, W2GPS, president of AMSAT-NA, gave Peter’s presentation and emphasized the cooperation between AMSAT-DL, AMSAT-NA, and AMSAT-UK in the development of the spacecraft.
The spacecraft utilizes a space frame left over from the AO-10 and AO-13 days and includes power and control systems similar to the earlier designs. Of course, battery and solar cell technology advances are included in the design where possible. Maximum use of existing, qualified components minimizes the additional qualification necessary on the new spacecraft.

A full suite of modes and functions has been planned which will please both the old and new satellite users. Frequencies utilized range from VHF through microwave. Much of this versatility comes from a decision made in late 2005 to incorporate the Software Defined Transponder developed by Howard Long, G6LVB, of AMSAT-UK.
All of the major functions have been integrated and tested in the space frame and negotiations are under way for a launch currently envisioned for an Ariane V in 2007. Backup plans are being made for a Soyuz in 2008.

Software Defined Transponder (SDX)

Howard Long made an excellent presentation on SDX during the AMSAT Forum at Dayton. Howard and others from AMSAT-UK had been following the SDX ideas and progress being made by Bob McGwier, N4HY, and the Eagle Team in this endeavor. He added some ideas of his own and put together development model hardware and software to support a joint European Space Agency (ESA) and AMSAT-UK project.

The SDX (software defined transponder) is shown hanging on the Dayton Hamvention® booth curtain in the upper left-hand portion. Its block diagram is shown in the upper right. WB4GCS and N4HY are shown operating the demonstration.

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