1957--1958

Amateur Radio
and the
First
Space
Satellites

Sputnik-1,
Explorer-1
Vanguard-1

QST cover

Sputnik observers
Space club observers of first artificial satellite: Sputnik 1 launched by the USSR on October 4, 1957
A Hallicrafters S-40B receiver, as shown, was used for the 20.005 and 40.002 MHz beacon signals.

Explorer-1 ad
Explorer-1 ad
Vanguard-1 ad


Tecraft CC-108
--- Top view of Tecraft satellite converter, Model CC-108 ---

Tecraft CC-108
--- Interior view of Tecraft satellite converter, Model CC-108 ---


Tapetone TC-108
--- Top view of Tapetone satellite converter, Tapetone TC-108 ---

Tapetone TC-108
--- Interior view of Tapetone satellite converter, Model TC-108 ---

Tecraft 1957 ad
--- First ad in QST: December 1957 (photo may show a prototype) ---

Tecraft 1957 ad
--- First ad in QST: December 1957 ---

Satellite Receiver System
--- The 1958 Sohio Moombeam Group receiving system that used the Tecraft preamp/converter ---

SatelliteReceiverSystem.jpg

Radio amateurs were involved in tracking and studying satellite communications from the first day of Sputnik, and two ham radio products, as advertised in QST (the ARRL radio journal), were already available when the United States entered the Space Age on January 31, 1958, the date that the Explorer-1 satellite was launched. Hams also used them to provide reception reports for United State's second satellite, Vanguard-1, which achieved orbit on March 17, 1958. These special RF preamp/converters down-converted the two USA satellite AM signals at 108.0 and 108.03 MHz to the 14 MHz ham band on any HF receiver. These historic artifacts of the Space Age may be the only commercial radio items designed for the first USA satellites. They were available for only a short time because the rapid advance of satellite technology. Changes in transmitter frequencies and modulation modes rendered them obsolete by 1959. On December 12, 1961, Oscar-1 achieved successful orbit--the first amateur radio satellite. Radio amateurs have been a part of space communications ever since, including custom-built satellites and EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) stations. Go to AMSAT's website for further information.

related references:

Martin Caidin VANGUARD! THE STORY OF THE FIRST MAN-MADE SATELLITE, 1957
Matte Bille & Erika Lishock, THE FIRST SPACE RACE -- LAUNCHING THE WORLD'S FIRST SATELLITES, 2004
W. Patrick McCray, KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES -- THE STORY OF MOONWATCH AND THE DAWN OF THE SPACE AGE, 2008

"Monitoring Sputnik," by Robert F. Scott, RADIO-ELECTRONICS, December 1957
"Tracking U.S. Satellites," by Jordan McQuay, RADIO-ELECTRONICS, December 1957

related website links:

First Amateur EME Lunar Tests: 1953-1965

Operation_Moonwatch: 1956-1958

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Moonwatch Division Records 1956-1975

Sounds from the First Satellites

AMSAT logo
--- Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation ---

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