India gives global Ham operators own satellite

India gives global Ham operators own satellite
May 3rd, 2005  

Topic: India gives global Ham operators own satellite

India gives global Ham operators own satellite

All you Amature radio Operators time to Rock

Source:Indo-Asian News Service

India has a gift for Ham radio operators worldwide - an exclusive satellite to be launched on Thursday that they can access for free.

The 42.5 kg micro-satellite is one of two that will be sent aloft from this launch pad that day. Today, there is no HAMSAT in the skies, the last one having died two years ago. That was the American AMSAT.

The Indian HAMSAT was originally scheduled to go up in 2003 but got delayed. Once it is up, it will be the only satellite of its kind in orbit.

"The amateur radio operators' community is eagerly awaiting the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) initiative, which will allow them to use the UHF/VHF bandwidths for transmission and reception," project director JP Gupta said.

Saudi Arabia has a HAMSAT in the sky, but this is available only to operators in the Middle East. The transponders are switched on only when this satellite moves over Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.

"India will make available the ISRO HAMSAT to everyone in the world, free of cost", Gupta said.

This satellite cost Rs 30 million ($690,000) and is expected to be operational for at least two years. By that time, ISRO hopes to come up with a second more advanced version.

Ham radio services have proved very useful in remote areas, especially during disasters. This was more than evident after the December 26 killer tsunami struck the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Ham operators on the islands were the first to establish contact with the outside world.

There is a subscript to this tale.

The defence ministry had all these years forbidden Ham radio operators from the islands, citing their strategic location. Permission was finally granted on December 15, 2004 and two Ham operators from Chennai landed on the islands within a week, just days before the tsunami struck.

Had the Ham operators not been there, it might have taken a lot longer for the world to learn about the disaster or the extent of damage.

Most components of the ISRO HAMSAT have been fabricated in India with help from experts of the Indian AMSAT Society. ISRO developed one transponder of the satellite and the other with the help of Dutch scientists.

With its own HAMSAT, India is hoping to rope in and involve the amateur radio operators' community into its integrated disaster management plan, experts say.