Radiosputniks Are Popular Hamsats
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Radiosputnik 12
Radiosputnik 13
Radiosputnik 14
Radiosputnik 15

1991: Radiosputnik 14

AMSAT-OSCAR-21 / RADIOSPUTNIK RS-14 could have been just another amateur radio package riding piggyback on a big government spacecraft when it was launched in 1991. But, when ground controllers converted AMSAT-OSCAR-21 into a voice repeater in the sky in 1992, it immediately became one of the most popular hamsats orbiting the globe.
The Russian satellite had been called Radio M-1 as it rode to space from Russia's Northern Cosmodrome at Plesetsk on January 29, 1991.

Like those popular Russian dolls inside dolls, Radio M-1 was inside a large government spacecraft called INFORMATOR-1, which housed equipment from the Ministry of Geology and Science (GEOS). And then, inside Radio M-1, was a German digital transponder called RUDAK-2.

The Russian space industry had been in the habit of labeling improved spacecraft with the letter M for modified. For instance, when the Progress space freighter was redesigned, it was called Progress-M. Similarly, after the first hamsats had been called Radio-1 and Radio-2, the fourteenth was modified and called Radio M-1.

RUDAK is a German-language acronym for Regenerating Transponder for Digital Amateur Communications. RUDAK-2 was designed and built by amateur radio members of AMSAT-DL, the German affiliate of AMSAT. DL is Germany's amateur callsign prefix. RUDAK-1 had flown to space aboard AO-13, but didn't work.

Dual names. The Russian amateur radio satellite club Orbita and the Adventure Club of Moscow built Radio M-1 as a joint project with German hams at Marburg, Munich and Hannover. The collaboration led to dual names for the new amateur radio satellite once it arrived in orbit: AMSAT-OSCAR-21 (AO-21) and Radiosputnik-14 (RS-14).

AO-21/RS-14 is in a 600-mile-high circular orbit. Its spacecraft-mate, the geological-survey satellite GEOS, should not be confused with the American GOES weather satellites. The combo is orbiting Earth every 104 minutes.

Amateur radio operators around the world use AO-21/RS-14 to communicate via frequency modulation (fm) voice, single-sideband (ssb) voice, Morse code (cw) telegraphy, and packet radio. RUDAK-2 is the packet-radio section of AO-21. A portion of computer memory is set aside as a mailbox where hams leave messages for others.

In 1992, ground controllers switched RUDAK to an fm repeater mode. It immediately became very popular with hams around the globe because it was very easy to use common ham gear with simple antennas to access the repeater in the sky. The uplink frequency was near 435 MHz. The downlink was at 145 MHz.

Non-human voices were heard from AO-21 in 1991 as ground controllers tested its talking-satellite experiment. The 145 MHz telemetry beacon was transmitting, "I am completely operational and all my circuits are functioning properly." The multilingual hamsat spoke Russian in 1992 when the speech synthesizer was greeting, "Hello to those on the ground and the cosmonauts in the space station Mir."

A Russian-Danish expedition, organized by the Adventure Club of Moscow, one of the original sponsors of AO-21, discovered the burial place of Danish explorer Vitus Bering (1682-1741) and his eight-man team at Commander Bay in 1991.

In 1728, the Danish navigator had been the first to traverse what we now know as the Bering Strait. He died in 1741 on Bering Island in the Commander Islands east of Kamchatka Peninsula in the Bering Sea.

A 1992 ceremony to re-bury Vitus Bering was held on his island. In honor of the event, AO-21's digital voice broadcast, "Greetings to the Russian-Denmark Expedition, which discovered the burial place of Vitus Bering and his team at the Commander Bay near Kamchatka."

Also in 1992, a female voice was heard on the AO-21 downlink speaking in the Slovenian language, the native tongue of Matjaz Vidmar, who was listening to a portable ham transceiver in his hospital bed. He was hospitalized following an automobile accident. Vidmar was known for his transponder designs, including S-Band transmitters for the hamsats AO-16, DO-17 and Phase-3D.

Celebrating the annual Army-Navy football game in 1992, Naval Academy midshipmen ran from Annapolis, Maryland, to the stadium at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They carried an unusual football helmet outfitted with a global-positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a packet-radio satellite terminal which reported their positions along the route every two minutes. From 600 miles overhead, the hamsat AO-21 helped out along the way by relaying position reports from runners and chase vehicles.

1991: Radiosputniks 12 and 13

RS-10 and RS-11 worked very well after their 1987 launch and were popular with amateur satellite enthusiasts. Sticking with a proven design, Russian hams delivered another popular package February 5, 1991, in the launch of RS-12 and RS-13 aboard a Russian Cosmos C launcher, just a week after AO-21/RS-14.

It was another flashy three-in-one space shot-the hamsats Radiosputnik-12 and Radiosputnik-13, and the government navigation satellite Cosmos 2123, all combined in one large spacecraft orbiting 600 miles above Earth.

Hamsats often ride piggy-back to space on government rockets, but there they separate into different orbits. By comparison, Cosmos 2123, RS-12 and RS-13 are one package with ham radio gear taking electricity from Cosmos' solar-panel wings. Cosmos 2123 helps Russian fishing fleets locate themselves on the world's oceans.

As with all hamsats since 1961, the Radiosputnik series is open for use by all amateurs around the globe. RS-12 and RS-13 telemetry beacons are near 29 and 145 MHz. They have identical transponders, but frequencies differ. Ground stations transmit on frequencies near 21 and 145 MHz. Downlink signals are near 29 and 145 MHz. Cosmos 2123 transmits at 150 MHz.

An innovation of earlier Radiosputniks, the popular autotransponder "robot" operator, was carried forward in RS-12 and RS-13. Hams also have fun sending slow-scan television (sstv) pictures to each other via RS-12 and RS-13.

RS-12 was active in 2001 on its so-called Mode A. Uplink at 145 MHz and downlink at 29 MHz. Beacon at 29.408 MHz.

RS-13 was not active in 2001. It had been last operational in Mode-T, but was turned off when RS-12 was reactivated in 2001. Uplink at 21 MHz and downlink at 145 Mhz. Beacon at 145.860 MHz.
    more info on RS-12/13

1994: Radiosputnik 15

RS-15 was launched December 26, 1994 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It still was semi-operational in 2001 on its so-called Mode A. Uplink at 145 MHz and downlink at 29 MHz. The unofficial SSB meeting frequency was 29.380 MHz. The satellite's beacon is at 29.352 MHz.     more info on RS-15

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