Satellite DXCC Nearly 20 Years in the Making


It took nearly 20 years, but AMSAT Vice President of Operations Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, finally qualified for Satellite DXCC. Glasbrenner submitted the requisite number of QSLs for checking at the Orlando HamCation February 12-14, and ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, verified KO4MA’s achievement.

“It's been a long process getting to satellite DXCC,” said Glasbrenner, who got into satellite operating around 1993, and was only on RS-12 (Mode K) for a long time. “This was the Russian satellite payload that used 15 meters up, and 10 meters down,” he explained.

His activity stagnated for a long time during and after his college years, but in 1999 he got involved in working the LEO satellites, such as UO-14 and AO-27, “then FO-20 and FO-29 for a little more distance, and then on the perigee passes of AO-10, when it was still semi-usable,” he added.

“When AO-40 was launched into a high-Earth orbit, I dove into Mode U/S with gusto,” Glasbrenner recounted. During the 3 years that AO-40 was active, he spent many late nights and early mornings looking for the next new one. “Eventually I was using a 3 foot solid dish with preamp and downconverter for the Mode S downlink, and this is when some of my most exciting contacts came.”

Highlights included working VU2MKP at a few degrees of elevation to the east, right after the satellite came up, and working KH2GR in the other direction, “while the satellite was off-pointing and the spin fades were horrendous, and timing each call during peaks.”

When AO-40 went silent, Glasbrenner said he was about a dozen short of DXCC, and he realized that he’d have to be proactive to finish up with just LEO satellites. Many of his new ones came from operators who went the extra mile to operate from places like the Caribbean and Greenland.

“The absence of operational HEO satellites makes satellite DXCC nearly impossible for newer operators,” he said, “but I'm confident that continued membership and support of AMSAT by any operator interested in satellites will result in the successful return to high orbit by one of the several opportunities currently being pursued by the organization. Strike while the iron is hot!”

Bernhard Dobler, DJ5MN, has been at the top of the DXCC-Satellite standings since 2000, and has 274 entities confirmed.