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As it had done in 1990, amateur radio led a nation into space again in 1992. Back in 1990, it had been Pakistan's first-ever satellite. This time, it was South Korea's first-ever satellite.
The microsat was built at Great Britain's University of Surrey for the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) by ten Korean students working under the guidance of Surrey engineers. The 110-lb. South Korean hamsat was called KITsat-A.
A European Ariane rocket put KITsat-A into orbit on August 10, 1992. AMSAT called the satellite KITsat-OSCAR-23 (KO-23).
Its builders named the hamsat Uribyol, Korean for "Our Star." Uribyol No. 1 made South Korea the 22nd country with a satellite in orbit since 1957 when the USSR launched the first Sputnik.
KO-23 consolidated technical advances from Surrey's UO-14 and UO-22, cloning much of its electronics from UO-14, UO-15 and UO-22, shoe-horning them into the same tiny UoSAT style of spacecraft "bus." It's a 14-in. cube with an 18-ft. gravity-gradient boom made of measuring-tape steel preformed so it extends from the spacecraft to form a tubular shape. A five-lb. weight is on the end. The boom provides restoring torque which keeps the TV camera lens pointed towards Earth.
KO-23's inclination of 66 degrees makes it available to users farther north and south than most amateur radio satellites. It circles Earth every 112 minutes. KO-23 circles Earth a dozen times a day, passing over the Korean peninsula seven times a day. The small satellite is photographing Earth, detecting cosmic particles and measuring cosmic rays, and providing an amateur radio electronic-mail system in orbit. It also makes digital voice-broadcast tests.
Spacecraft in orbit are showered by radiation from beyond Earth, which can damage integrated circuit (IC) chips and scramble data stored in solid-state memories. AO-10 and FO-12 were crippled by radiation damage. Recent hamsats have used even-more-delicate semiconductors in critical systems. UO-9, UO-11, UO-14 and UO-22 began amateur studies of radiation, measuring effects on electronics. However, those measurements were in relatively-benign low-altitude, high-inclination orbits. On the other hand, KO-23 is in a high-altitude, low-inclination orbit, where much worse radiation is found.
KO-23 has a cosmic ray experiment looking for high-energy cosmic rays and measuring the total radiation dose. Effects on computers, memories, power systems and solar panels are monitored.
KO-23 is a pacsat with two user uplink frequencies in the 145 MHz band, one 435 MHz transmitter, and a command uplink. It was the second amateur radio satellite to offer high-speed 9600-baud transfers. For message storage, the pacsat has 13 megabytes of CMOS random-access memory (RAM).
KO-23 has speech synthesis, store-and-forward speech relay, and high-speed modulation. It allows users to leave voice mail. KO-23 was reported playing military-style music in November 1992.
KITsat has an upgraded version of the UO-22 TV camera capable of shooting photographs with either four-kilometer or 400-meter resolution.
Like UO-22, one of KITsat's two CCD cameras provides a wide field of view with four-kilometer ground resolution. However, it covers a larger area of Earth than UO-22's camera. KITsat's second camera has a telephoto lens giving 400 meters ground resolution. The wide-angle camera is used to spot areas to be photographed in more detail. Then, detailed images are made with the narrow-field camera. Pictures snapped by KO-23 are stored as data in memory, to be downloaded by ground stations via packet radio.
KO-23 has recorded remarkable images around the globe, including Antarctica and the tip of Patagonia as a low Sun angle highlighted splendid cloud formations; wide-angle shots of Korea and Japan; telephoto shots of Kitakyushu, Hiroshima and the land bridge between the Japanese islands of Kyushu and Honshu; and the coastline of Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Bangladesh.
1990s hamsats: Microsats UoSATs Radiosputniks Mini-Sputnik Fuji Badr KITsat Top of this page
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