MARTIN - G8JNJ

ECLECTIC AETHER - Adventures with Amateur Radio

Space


I've had an interest in the exploration of space since I was very young.

Back in the 1980's when the Shuttle had just commenced operations, I was lucky enough to find details of the Orbiter communication control panel in a book called the 'The Space Shuttle Operator's Manual'

I noticed that there were two frequencies 259.7 and 296.8 marked next to one of the switches on the communication sub panel.

At the time I had an AOR2001 scanning receiver, to which I had added a squelch interface so that I could automatically record any received signals onto cassette tape.

So with nothing to lose I setup the AOR to scan between four pre-set channels 259.7 and 296.8 with both AM and NBFM (as I didn't know which mode was likely to be used).

After a few days I got lucky and recorded a short burst of a voice with an American accent. I didn't know which of the two frequencies I received it on, but from the background noise I could tell that the modulation was definitely AM.

As I thought that I may have been one of the first listeners in the UK to have heard transmissions from the shuttle directly. I wrote to NASA with a transcript of the conversation and asked if it was likely that I had indeed heard the Shuttle as it passed overhead.

I decided to install the AOR in my car so that I could monitor the Shuttle when it was passing over when I was driving to and from work. This was very successful, and I heard strong signals on many occasions when Shuttle flights were in progress.

By this stage my work colleagues were teasing me about hearing voices, but about a month later I received a fantastic letter back from NASA, which put an end to their speculation.

The letter included a personal note from the Mission commander who answered some of my technical questions, signed photo of the STS 51-B crew and also a huge aeronautical wall chart showing the orbits that the mission had taken and the location of the NASA ground tracking and communication facilities.



Space Shutle Orbiter Crew Members for 51-B - April / May 1985

The seven members of the Space Shuttle 51-B flight are: (Standing left to right) Mission Specialist Don Lind, Payload Specialist Taylor Wang, Mission Specialists Norman Thagard and William Thornton and Payload Specialist Lodewijk van den Berg: (seated, left to right) Commander Robert Overmyer and Pilot Fredrick Gregory.

The letter from the Commander Robert Overmyer (who unfortunately died in a plane crash on March 22, 1996) is shown below.



It reads:-

"Dear Martin,

Just a quick note to answer your questions. Specifically you are right in assuming the use of 296.8 and 259.7. The original purpose of the UHF was to allow duplex communication between two EVA crew members and the orbiter. It is also a backup during launch and final stages of entry as well as some limited use from orbit as some of our ground stations also have UHF.

When you heard me calling on UHF over Europe it was probably when I was picking up broadcast from some departure control. The speaker had an English accent but I never did catch his location or callsign. I usually picked it up after passing over England but cannot place any exact location over Europe.

On the accompanying orbit map it occurred on orbits marked 2 and 17 which of course repeated every 33 orbits (35, 50, 38, 88, etc.)

 By the way, we often just leave the UHF on in orbit so even though we are talking to Huston via S-Band or Ku-Band through TDRS we are still going out on UHF.

 Sincerely

 Bob Overmyer

 Commander 51B/SL-3"









Active ISS Frequencies


These frequencies were freely obtained from a variety of sources on the Web and are believed to be current in January 2016

I can particularly recommend http://www.satellitenwelt.de/ (German but use Google translate) 


Frequency
     MHz 
Use
   
8.3640 Russian Soyuz and Progress used during recovery (Emergency) CW radio beacon 6 Watts
   
18.0600 Russian Soyuz and Progress used during recovery Voice to the search and rescue teams AM 11 Watts
   
121.1000 Russian EVA Orlan-M Space Suit Voice "Korona-M" FM signal bandwidth of 27 KHz TX (Duplex) RX on 130.1670 MHz
   
121.2750 Russian EVA Orlan-M Space Suit Voice "Korona-M" FM signal bandwidth of 27 KHz TX (Duplex) RX on 130.1670 MHz Also Soyuz Voice via ZUP-Moscow "Rassvet-M" Progress: manual remote control system "TORU"
   
121.5000 Russian Soyuz and Progress used during recovery [Emergency frequency] CW radio beacon & AM Voice to the search and rescue teams 1 Watt 
   
130.1670 Russian Voice VHF-2 Voskhod-M FM signal bandwidth of 27 KHz  Space-to-Space & Telecommand system "TORU"  used during docking of Soyuz and Progress feeder craft FM Low-Power (Simplex)  (Duplex RX on 121.750 MHz)
   
139.2080 Russian Voice Voskhod-M FM signal bandwidth of 27 KHz
   
143.6250 Russian Voice VHF-1 Voskhod-M FM signal bandwidth of 27 KHz 6 Watt  (Duplex) RX on 139.208 MHz 
   
145.8000 ISS Amateur Radio FM Voice & SSTV ITU Region 1 Uplink 145.200 ITU Region 2&3 Uplink 144.490 (also not used but Repeater Uplink 437.800 & 1269.650)
   
145.8250 ISS Amateur Radio Packet AFSK AX.25 1200 Bd (Worldwide)
   
147.2000 Russian Telemetry "BRS-4M" PCM-FM
   
166.0000 Russian Telemetry "Mbits" used by Soyuz TMA-M and Progress MM supply craft PCM-FM RF bandwidth of 244 KHz
   
231.0000 Russian EVA Orlan-M Space Suit Telemetry "Tranzit-B" PCM-TMS Low-Power
   
233.0000 Russian EVA Orlan-M Space Suit Telemetry "Tranzit-B" PCM-TMS Low-Power
   
243.0000 US Space Shuttle (no longer used) Emergency Channel AM 10 Watt (A-G during Launch & Recovery)
   
247.0000 Russian EVA Orlan-M Space Suit Telemetry "Tranzit-B" PCM-TMS Low-Power
   
249.0000 Russian EVA Orlan-M Space Suit Telemetry "Tranzit-B" PCM-TMS Low-Power
   
259.7000 US Space Shuttle (no longer used) Primary AM 10 Watt (UHF 1 A-G during Launch & Recovery)
   
263.2000 Russian Voice Space-to-Space FM
   
272.8000 Russian Voice Space-to-Space FM
   
279.0000 US Space Shuttle EMU 2 (no longer used) 0.25 Watt (EMU 2 Voice  during EVA & Telemetry every 2 minutes, transmitted with a length of 15 seconds on a 5.4 KHz subcarrier)
   
291.5000 Russian Telemetry "BR-9ZU-3" PCM-FM 
   
296.8000 US Space Shuttle UHF 2 (no longer used) Secondary AM 10 Watt (UHF 2 A-G during Launch & Recovery) & 0.25 Watt (EMU 1 Voice during EVA & Telemetry every 2 minutes, transmitted with a length of 15 seconds on a 5.4 KHz subcarrier)
   
400.5000 US SpaceX Dragon "COTS" (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) Telemetry Inter-Satellite-Link "CUCU" PCM-FM Dragon 1,45 Watt & ISS 2,5 Watt  153.6 kbp two peaks at 77 KHz RF bandwidth of 338 KHz
   
414.2000 US ISS Space to Space Communications System (SSCS / SSER) Primary TDMA FSK 695 kbps Provides voice communications between the ISS and EVA astronauts, also may be used from a manned SpaceX Dragon. Receives suit status and biomedical signals from the EMU Low power: 0.25 Watts High power: 5.0 Watts
   
417.1000 US ISS Space to Space Communications System (SSCS / SSER) Secondary TDMA FSK 695 kbps Provides voice communications between the ISS and EVA astronauts, also may be used from a manned SpaceX Dragon. Receives suit status and biomedical signals from the EMU Low power: 0.25 Watts High power: 5.0 Watts
   
437.5500 ISS Amateur Radio FM Voice UHF (Simplex rarely used)
   
437.8000 ISS Amateur Radio FM Voice repeater (rarely used) Uplink 145.990 with 67.0 PL
   
463.0000


Russian Video "Klest-M" used during docking of Soyuz and Progress feeder craft WBFM RF bandwidth of 20 MHz SECAM 625 lines at 25 frames per second


628.0000 Russian Telemetry "BITS2-12" [Secondary] PCM-FM 512 kbps RF bandwidth of 256 KHz
   
630.0000 Russian Telemetry "BITS2-12" [Primary] PCM-FM 512 kbps RF bandwidth of 256 KHz
   
632.0000 Russian Telemetry "BR-9ZU-8" [Secondary] PCM-FM 512 kbps RF bandwidth of 256 KHz
   
634.0000 Russian Telemetry "BR-9ZU-8" [Primary] PCM-FM 512 kbps RF bandwidth of 256 KHz
   
922.7630 Russian "Kwant-V" Tracking Telemetry from Soyuz TMA-M and Progress MM supply craft  CW RX on 768.960MHz 64 bps
   
924.6000 Russian "Regul-OS" radio Communication, Control  & Telemetry FSK 256 kbps RX  770.500 MHz 32 kbps 
   
2005.0000 Russian Glisser-M Orlan Video WBFM Low-Power
   
2030.4375 Russian Glisser-M Orlan Video WBFM Low-Power
   
2205.0000 Russian ATV / HTV / US Cygnus & Dragon PM 20 Watt
   
2216.0000 US Cygnus PM 2 Watt / Dragon PM 20 Watt
   
2217.5000 US Space-to-TDRSS (Secondary) Ch 04 PM 20 Watt & US Space Shuttle (no longer used) Space-to-Ground Primary Ch.04 PM 20 Watt
   
2231.5000 US Dragon PM 20 Watt
   
2250.0000 US ISS EMU Video WBFM Low-Power & US Space Shuttle (no longer used) FM Voice, video, data and EMU Video
   
2265.0000 US Space-to-TDRSS PM 20 Watt
   
2272.5000 US Space Shuttle (no longer used) External Tank Video Ch.15 WBFM 10 Watt 
   
2287.5000 US Space-to-TDRSS (Primary) Ch 18 PM 20 Watt
   
2395.0000 ISS Amateur Radio Digital Video DVB-S (without PMT table) QPSK 2mbp FEC : Video PID = 256 Audio PID = 257 10 Watt EIRP