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Radio amateurs have pushed the state of the art in electronics in nations around the globe. In Pakistan, for instance, a number of engineers at the government's Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) are hams.
SUPARCO is at the University of the Punjab at Lahore, a prominent border city in eastern Pakistan not far from Delhi, India, and at the Arabian Sea port of Karachi in southern Pakistan. SUPARCO has fired small rockets on sub-orbital science flights from launch pads at its Maini Beach flight-range, 36 miles west of Karachi.
Several SUPARCO personnel completed masters degrees in engineering at England's University of Surrey-the institution which built and operates UO-9, UO-11 and UO-22 hamsats. While at Surrey, they worked on UoSAT projects. When the engineering students returned to Karachi and Lahore, they built ground stations and took part in digital communications experiments with the British hamsats UO-9 and UO-11.
SUPARCO hams also used knowledge gained at the university to build their own satellite. With support from the Pakistan Amateur Radio Society, they started building a small hamsat in the last half of 1986. They called it Badr, after the Urdu language word for "new moon."
The first satellite, Badr-1 or Badr-A, was to have been ferried to space in a U.S. shuttle, but that plan changed after the 1986 Challenger explosion delayed American flights.
Four pre-launch ground tests were successful. In 1989, Pakistan registered the planned satellite with the International Frequency Registration Bureau. Then the spacecraft was shipped to China's Xichang Launch Center in 1990.
China launched the 150-lb. Badr-1 on July 16, 1990, to a 375-mi.-high circular orbit on a Long March rocket. It was one of the eight hamsats sent aloft in 1990. The tiny Badr-1 circled the globe every 96 minutes, passing over Pakistan for 15 minutes three to four times a day.
The Pakistani satellite, shaped as a polyhedron with 26 surfaces or facets, was about 20 inches in diameter. It resembled the U.S. NUsat launched from an American shuttle in 1985, but Badr-A housed digital communications gear modeled after the radio system aboard the British satellite UO-11 launched in 1984.
Badr-1 offered one radio channel for digital store-and-forward communications. Uplink was near 435 MHz. Downlink was near 145 MHz. The telemetry beacon was near 145 MHz.
Badr-1's orbit was so low it could not sustain itself in space more than 146 days. It fell into Earth's atmosphere and burned December 9, 1990.
Subsequently, SUPARCO engineers built a second satellite, Badr-2 or Badr-B, more sophisticated than Badr-l, with a CCD camera for pictures of Earth and a system allowing ground stations to change the satellite's direction in space. Badr-2 was launched to space on December 10, 2001, by Russia on a Zenit-2 rocket from its Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakistan.
1990s hamsats: Microsats UoSATs Radiosputniks Mini-Sputnik Fuji Badr KITsat Top of this page
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