19 Jun 2017

Geostationary amateur satellites

We are used to geostationary satellites which carry TV signals from a fixed point: aim the dish in the right place in the sky and that is it. By contrast, amateur satellites are in a low and moving orbit, so they only stay in range for a short time and they have to be tracked in the sky.

All this could change next year when 2 satellites (containing amateur radio transponders) are placed in geosynchronous orbits. Aim your antennas once and fix them in place. A lot can go wrong - date slippage, failure on launch, failure to reach the right place in space, equipment failure etc. If these all go to plan, amateur radio could be quite different in a few years' time.

As we are approaching a period of very poor HF conditions, these satellites could be a godsend. One is aimed to give good coverage over the Americas. The other covers Europe, Middle East and Africa mainly.

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