Happy 45th Birthday, AMSAT-OSCAR 7!
The world’s longest-lived satellite, AO-7, turned 45 years old this month. It was launched on November 15, 1974, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After nearly 7 years of service, AO-7 was thought to have reached the end of its life in June 1981 due to battery failure, and a premature obituary appeared in the AMSAT Satellite Report.
In an interesting footnote, although AO-7 was thought to be nonfunctional after 1981, it’s been reported that the Polish Solidarity movement used AO-7 to pass messages in 1982, while Poland was under martial law.
Twenty years later, on June 21, 2002, G3IOR reported hearing “an old-style CW beacon” from an unknown OSCAR near 145.970 MHz. It didn’t take long to identify the satellite as AO-7, which remains operational and well-used while it’s in sunlight.
To celebrate AO-7’s 45th birthday, AMSAT plans to auction a set of gold-plated AO-7 cufflinks and a 50th Anniversary AMSAT lab coat (size 42R). The auctions are now live on eBay and will conclude shortly after 0200 UTC on November 26, 2019. AMSAT reports that 100% of the proceeds will go toward Keeping Amateur Radio in Space. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service