India’s VO-52 Satellite Goes Dark
Despite efforts to keep the flagging VUSat OSCAR-52 (VO-52) Amateur Radio satellite in operation for a while longer, ground controllers have yielded to the nearly decade-old spacecraft’s failing technology and have permanently taken it out of service. Launched into low Earth orbit in 2005, the VO-52 microsatellite carried two Amateur Radio transponders for SSB and CW. B.A. “Mani” Subramani, VU2WMY/KJ6LRS, of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said that VO-52’s lithium-ion batteries had failed, and the satellite was officially decommissioned on July 21.
“We all here in ISRO do definitely hope that HAMSAT VO-52 worked tirelessly and was a good friend to the Amateur Radio fraternity around the world,” he said. “We are sure that HAMSAT was loved by all who worked through her. Though, we are deeply saddened by the loss of HAMSAT VO-52, she will never be forgotten.”
The VO-52 satellite was one of the most popular SSB/CW satellites during its lifetime. One of its transponders was developed by Indian radio amateurs with assistance from ISRO and AMSAT-India. The second transponder was developed by William Leijenaar, PE1RAH, a radio amateur and graduate student from the Netherlands.
VU2MWY said that VO-52 had completed nearly 50,000 orbits before it was decommissioned. “Since 11 July, every best possible effort has been put in by the spacecraft controllers here in ISTRAC Bangalore to revive her back to life and to help her with workload, so she won’t be swamped when she returns, but with no luck,” he said. “[W]e thank each and everyone who contributed to the great success of HAMSAT.”
VO-52 had been designed to remain operational for just a year, but it exceeded expectations by continuing to run for more than 9 years.