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'
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.
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
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.
|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 121.2750 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 : ½ Video PID = 256 Audio PID = 257 10 Watt EIRP|