Twenty-six years ago today the University of Surrey team led by future SSTL-founder Sir Martin Sweeting launched the UoSAT-2 satellite (a.k.a UO-11) onboard a Delta rocket with LandSat-D from Vandenberg Air Force Base, USA on the 1st March 1984.
The 60kg small satellite was built in just 6 months and carried a Digitalker speech synthesiser and experiments including magnetometers, a CCD camera, a Geiger-Müller tube and a microphone to detect micrometeoroid impacts.
UoSAT-2 was instrumental in providing a communications link from the Canadian-Soviet Ski-Trek support teams to the expedition party in 1986. The position of the skiers' emergency beacon was calculated daily by Cospas-Sarsat ground stations and relayed to them and thousands of amateur radio listeners as a spoken message from the Digitalker on board UO-11. This is really worth a listen - visit the expedition web page. The message could also serve as an emergency channel to the skiers in the event that all other radio links failed.
UoSAT-2 also carried the Digital Communications Experiment (DCE) that was the first digital packet store-&-forward payload on a microsatellite. Find out more about this payload and see some photos of UoSAT-2 being built at Lloyd Wood’s personal UoSAT-2 pages.
The plucky small satellite was still transmitting last week on 145.825 MHz AFSK-FM at 1200 bps after 26 years in orbit! The small demonstration satellite’s on-board batteries are exhausted after 26 years in orbit, so the satellite now only operates in sunlight and has inactive beacons at 435.025 MHz and 2401 MHz.