50th Anniversary of OSCAR 1
On December 12, 1961 the first Amateur Radio satellite took to the skies. Known as OSCAR 1 (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio), the satellite was part of a payload launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard an Agena rocket. It was inserted into a 431 X 245 kilometer orbit inclined about 81 degrees to the Earth’s equator.
The satellite was in orbit for 22 days and was heard by more than 570 amateurs in 28 countries as it sent “HI” in high speed Morse code on 2 meters. (Listen to an original audio recording here.) OSCAR 1 re-entered Earth's atmosphere on January 31, 1962.
See the article “Project OSCAR +50” by ARRL Laboratory Test Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM, in the upcoming February issue of QST. You can also watch video interviews with amateur satellite pioneers at the 2011 AMSAT Space Symposium here.