|Purpose||Designing, building, and operating experimental satellites; promoting space education|
|Robert Bankston KE4AL|
|Board of Directors|
AMSAT is a name for amateur radio satellite organizations worldwide, but in particular the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) with headquarters at Washington, D.C. AMSAT organizations design, build, arrange launches for, and then operate (command) satellites carrying amateur radio payloads, including the OSCAR series of satellites. Other informally affiliated national organizations exist, such as AMSAT Germany (AMSAT-DL) and AMSAT Japan (JAMSAT).
AMSAT was founded in 1969 in Washington, D.C. to continue the efforts begun by Project OSCAR. Its first project was to coordinate the launch of OSCAR 5, constructed by students at the University of Melbourne. Some design modifications were needed and were made by AMSAT members, and the satellite was successfully launched on 30 January 1970, on a NASA Thor Delta launch vehicle.
AMSAT's next launch was AMSAT-OSCAR 6 (AO-6) on 15 October 1972. AO-6 was AMSAT's first long-life satellite, and was built with participants from Australia and West Germany. Command stations in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Hungary, Morocco, New Zealand, the United States and West Germany controlled the satellite, contributing greatly to its 4.5 years of service. Further launches continued to emphasize international cooperation, with AMSAT-OSCAR 7 (AO-7) launching with a new transponder developed and built by Karl Meinzer and AMSAT Germany (AMSAT-DL). AMSAT Japan (JAMSAT) contributed a transponder to AMSAT-OSCAR 8 (AO-8).
In order to launch its satellites, AMSAT has worked with space agencies and commercial launch contractors to develop new ways to take advantage of unused areas of launch vehicles. In return, AMSAT sometimes can negotiate a reduction or waiver of launch costs. One of the most significant is the Ariane Structure for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP), developed and manufactured in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1990 for use on its Ariane 4 launch vehicle. AMSAT was again able to take advantage of unused space with the launch of AMSAT-OSCAR 40 (AO-40), occupying unused space on an Ariane 5.
The IPS (Interpreter for Process Structures) programming language was specifically written for the RCA 1802 AMSAT Phase III satellite.
The IPS threaded code language, developed for AMSAT Phase III, is the first known use of a high-level language on board a spacecraft.
Another 16-bit IPS implementation was specifically developed to run on the ARM CPU in the IHU-2 on the AMSAT P3D.
A 32-bit IPS implementation has been developed for the AMSAT P3E satellite and the AMSAT P5A mission to Mars, which also have ARM CPUs. Emulators for both the classic 16-bit and the 32-bit IPS language and development environment are available for many other systems.
From its first launch, AMSAT projects have had international scope. As of 2006,[update] 21 countries have launched an amateur satellite. Many of these countries have their own AMSAT affiliate, some of which are noted below:
The AMSAT Phase system describes an amateur satellite based upon its capabilities or mode of operation and roughly parallel the development of amateur satellites.
Most amateur satellites do not receive their sequential OSCAR designation until after they are successfully in orbit, and then only at the request of the launching organization. Regardless, amateur satellites will have been named by the organization that constructed it, and that name is frequently prepended to its OSCAR designation, resulting a name such as CubeSat-OSCAR 57. In conversation, names are usually abbreviated as CO-57 or similar.
A unique amateur satellite was SuitSat, an obsolete Russian space suit with a transmitter in it, which was launched in 2006 from the International Space Station. In a twist of fate, "Oscar" was the name given to an obsolete space suit by its young owner in the book Have Space Suit, Will Travel, by Robert A Heinlein. This book was originally published a year after the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.
The names of the satellites below are sorted in chronological order by launch date, ascending. The status column denotes the current operational status of the satellite. Green signifies that the satellite is currently operational, orange indicates that the satellite is partially operational or failing. Red indicates that the satellite is non operational and black indicates that the satellite has re-entered the earth's atmosphere. The country listing denotes the country that constructed the satellite and not the launching country.
|AMSAT-OSCAR 6 (OSCAR 6, AO-6, AO-C, P2A)||Non-Operational||15 October 1972||United States|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 7 (OSCAR 7, AO-7, AO-B, P2B)||Semi-Operational||15 November 1974||United States|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 8 (OSCAR 8, AO-8, AO-D, P2D)||Non-Operational||5 March 1978||United States / Canada / Germany / Japan|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 10 (Phase 3B, AO-10, P3B)||Non-Operational||16 June 1983||United States / Germany|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 13 (Phase 3C, AO-13, P3C)||Decayed||15 June 1988||Germany|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 16 (Pacsat, AO-16, Microsat-1)||Semi-Operational||22 January 1990||United States|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 40 (AO-40, Phase 3D, P3D)||Non-Operational||16 November 2000||United States / Germany|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 51 (Echo, AO-51)||Non-Operational||28 June 2004||United States|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 85 (Fox-1A, AO-85)||Non-Operational||8 October 2015||United States|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 91 (Fox-1B, RadFxSat, AO-91)||Semi-Operational||18 November 2017||United States|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 92 (Fox-1D, AO-92)||Semi-Operational||12 January 2018||United States|
|AMSAT-OSCAR 95 (Fox-1Cliff, AO-95)||Beacon Only||4 December 2018||United States|
|RadFxSat-2 (Fox-1E)||Semi-Operational||17 January 2021||United States|
AMSAT built a series of five 1U CubeSats to carry university experiments, including a camera, and mode U/V FM repeaters. The first two of these satellites, Fox-1A, and Fox-1B, were launched on 8 October 2015 and 18 November 2017 respectively and are currently operational and available for use. Fox-1D (AO-92) was launched on 12 January 2018 on the PSLV-C40 mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. Fox-1Cliff was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard the SpaceX Falcon-9 SSO-A rocket on 3 December 2018. These four Fox satellites contain FM transponders with uplink on the 70 cm band and downlink on the 2 metre band.
RadFxSat-2/Fox-1E, a variation of the Fox-1 series, carrying a mode V/U linear transponder has been accepted for a launch by the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative. Fox-1E was launched into orbit aboard a Virgin Orbit LauncherOne vehicle on 17 January 2021. Although the beacon has not been heard, the linear transponder is at least partially functioning with a low level downlink signal.
AMSAT is currently developing the GOLF series of CubeSats with the first satellite in the series, GOLF-TEE, expected to launch in 2022. The GOLF series is designed to test technologies for future high Earth orbit (HEO) missions.
AMSAT also offers a communications platform for university CubeSats. The AMSAT Linear Transponder Module (LTM) includes a VHF/UHF telemetry beacon, command receiver, and linear transponder. The first LTM flew on HuskySat-OSCAR 107 in 2020. In July 2020, AMSAT and the University of Maine announced that an LTM would be provided for the University of Maine's MESAT1 CubeSat, Maine's first small satellite.
Additionally, AMSAT supports amateur radio on human spaceflight missions as a supporting partner of Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). This partnership includes support for future missions on the Lunar Gateway.
AMSAT also supports STEM education and has developed a CubeSat Simulator as part of these efforts.
AMSAT operates the AO-7, AO-85, AO-91, and AO-92 satellites, which are open for general amateur use. The U.S. Air Force FalconSAT-3 was turned over to AMSAT for amateur radio use in late September 2017. AO-95 was launched aboard SpaceX's Falcon-9 SSO-A mission on 4 December 2018 and was later determined to have poor to no RF reception capability, thus preventing commissioning and putting its FM transponder mission into indefinite suspension.