Venerable LUSAT-1 (OSCAR 19) Takes to the Dark Side
Set to celebrate its silver anniversary next year, LUSAT-1 — which is also known as OSCAR 19 or LO-19 — appears once again to be functioning, sort of, when not in sunlight. At this point, OSCAR 19 is only transmitting telemetry; its digital transponder has not been reported to be operational.
“We knew that our LUSAT started transmitting again a couple of years ago, but only when illuminated by sunlight and was not heard during the night,” Pedro Converso, LU7ABF, reported to the AMSAT-BB. During a recent nighttime pass, though, he was surprised to hear “the usual strong 900 mW continuous carrier on 437.125 MHz,” 22 minutes after LO-19 had emerged from Earth’s shadow.
“It’s almost a miracle that after almost 25 years, LUSAT’s vintage Ni-Cd batteries can receive and hold [a] charge,” he said.
Launched in 1990 from Kourou, French Guyana, on an Ariane 4 vehicle, the satellite — Argentina’s first — has completed more than 128,000 orbits, and is one of the oldest active Amateur Radio satellites. The satellite carries a digital store-and-forward packet transponder with uplink frequencies at 145.84, 145.86, 145.88, and 145.90 MHz 1200 bps FM, with AX.25 protocol downlink at 437.125 MHz SSB.