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Mission typeAmateur radio
OperatorAMSAT / NASA
COSPAR ID1972-082B
SATCAT no.6236
Mission duration4.5 years
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass18.2 kilograms (40 lb)
Dimensions16 cm × 30 cm × 44 cm (6.3 in × 11.8 in × 17.3 in)
Start of mission
Launch date15 October 1972, 17:19 UTC
RocketDelta 300 575/D-91
Launch siteVandenberg SLC-2W
End of mission
Last contact21 June 1977 (1977-06-22)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee1,448 kilometres (900 mi)
Apogee1,457 kilometres (905 mi)
Inclination101.7 degrees
Period114.93 minutes
Epoch15 November 1972[1]

AO-6 (a.k.a. AMSAT-OSCAR 6) was the first Phase 2 amateur radio satellite (P2-A) launched into Low Earth Orbit. It was also the first satellite constructed by the new AMSAT North America (AMSAT-NA) organization.

The satellite was launched October 15, 1972, by a Delta 300 launcher from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California. AO-6 was launched piggyback with ITOS-D (NOAA 2).

Weight 18.2 kg. Orbit 1450 x 1459 km. Inclination 101.7 degrees. Box shaped 430 x 300 x 150 mm. Quarter-wave monopole antennas (144 and 435 MHz) and half-wave dipole antenna (29 MHz). It remained operational for 4.5 years until a battery failure on June 21, 1977.[2][3]

Equipped with solar panels powering NiCd batteries, AO-6 provided 24 V at 3.5 W power to three transponders. It carried a Mode A transponder (100 kHz wide at 1 W) and provided store-and-forward morse and teletype messages (named Codestore) for later transmission. Subsystems were built in the United States, Australia, and Germany.[4]

AO-6 had a 1.3 watt transmitter into a half-wave dipole antenna. AO-6's receiver input sensitivity was approximately -100dbm (2 uv per meter) and had an AGC that provided up to 26 dB of gain reduction optimized for SSB modulation. The transceiver team consisted of Karl Meinzer DJ4ZC, Wallace Mercer W4RUD, Dick Daniels WA4DGU and Jan King W3GEY.


AO-6 demonstrated several uses of new technologies and operations.[4]

  • First complex control system using discrete logic
  • First satellite-to-satellite relay, through AO-7.[5]
  • Demonstrated usage of satellite enabled doppler-location of ground station for search and rescue;
  • Demonstrated practical, low-cost medical data relay from remote locations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Satellite Catalog". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  2. ^ "AMSAT P2A". Gunter's Space Page. 31 December 1999. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Oscar 6". NASA National Space Science Data Center. 30 June 1977. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b "AMSAT-OSCAR 6 Satellite Summary". AMSAT. 31 May 2003. Archived from the original on June 18, 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  5. ^ Klein, Perry (October 1975). "Intersatellite communication using the AMSAT-OSCAR 6 and AMSAT-OSCAR 7 radio amateur satellites". IEEE. Retrieved 16 December 2009.

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  • Jan King, "The Sixth Amateur Satellite - A Technical Report: Part I," QST, Jul 1973, p. 66-71, 101.
  • Jan King, "The Sixth Amateur Satellite - A Technical Report: Part II," QST, Aug 1973, p. 69-74, 106.
  • John Fox and Ron Dunbar, "Preliminary Report on Inverted Doppler Anomaly," ARRL Technical Symposium on Space Communications, Reston, VA, Sep 1973, pp 1–30.
  • Perry Klein and Jan King, "Results of the AMSAT-OSCAR 6 Communications Satellite Experiment," IEEE National Convention Record, NYC, Mar 1974.
  • Perry Klein and Ray Soifer, "Intersatellite Communication Using the AMSAT-OSCAR 6 and AMSAT-OSCAR 7 Radio Amateur Satellites," Proceedings of the IEEE Letters, Oct 1975, pp 1526–1527.
  • D. Brandel, P. Schmidt, and B. Trudell, "Improvements in Search and Rescue Distress Alerting and Location Using Satellites," IEEE WESCON, Sep 1976.
  • J. Kleinman, "OSCAR Medical Data," QST, Oct 1976, pp 42–43.
  • D. Nelson, "Medical Relay by Satellite," Ham Radio, Apr 1977, pp 67–73.
  • W0LER, "OSCAR 6 - Gone but not forgotten," QST, Nov 1977, p. 31.