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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS007 (2004)

ARLS007 Ham radio-carrying rocket hopes to reach space

QST de W1AW  
Space Bulletin 007  ARLS007
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington, CT  May 12, 2004
To all radio amateurs

ARLS007 Ham radio-carrying rocket hopes to reach space

An amateur rocket team this month will attempt to send a
21-foot-tall rocket carrying a ham radio avionics package into the
fringes of space. The launch by the Civilian Space Xploration Team
(CSXT) could occur as early as Monday, May 17, from Black Rock
Desert in Nevada. A CSXT try to reach space in 2002 ended some three
seconds after launch when the rocket's engine exploded. Avionics
Team Leader Eric Knight, KB1EHE, says CSXT has since rebounded from
that devastating blow with a newer, bigger vehicle.

''We are very pumped,'' the Connecticut amateur told ARRL. ''Our
confidence level grows with each launch. All the ingredients are
there for success.'' Knight's avionics team includes eight Amateur
Radio licensees, most of whom also were involved in the 2002 launch
attempt. The entire CSXT team, headed by CSXT founder and Program
Director--and former Hollywood stunt man--Ky Michaelson of
Minnesota, has 18 members.

In terms of Amateur Radio, the GoFast rocket, named for a corporate
sponsor, will transmit telemetry on the 33-cm amateur band and
Amateur TV at 2.4 GHz using a high-quality color camera. The
avionics also incorporate multiple global positioning system (GPS)
units to record the vehicle's precise location and flight path,
redundant data acquisition and storage systems, and a variety of
data sensors.

Once the rocket goes up, appropriately equipped amateurs may be able
to receive signals from the approximately 2 W transmitters onboard,
even at some distance from the launch site, Knight says. Specific
frequencies have not yet been selected, however. In addition, the
team may set up an HF station at the launch site.

Knight says the avionics crew even salvaged a few electronic
components for the 2004 launch from the 2002 avionics package, which
continued to function flawlessly until the rocket crashed into the

Plans call for the solid-fuel rocket to zip upward from the desert
floor and reach a speed of more than 4000 MPH in about 9 seconds.
Assuming all goes well, the suborbital vehicle will, on its own
momentum, attain an altitude of 100 km or 62 statute miles--high
enough to be considered ''space''--linger there for a couple of
minutes then arc back to Earth some 26 miles down range. The whole
thing will take somewhat less than a half-hour, Knight says. If
successful it would mark the first amateur rocket launch into space.

Knight is optimistic that the team has gained valuable knowledge
from its past failures. ''We've learned a lot that you can't get from
a textbook,'' he said. ''We feel we have a chance to make history.''

There's more information on the CSXT Web site, .


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