AMSAT-Deutschland e.V., or AMSAT-DL for short, was founded in April 1973 in Marburg/Lahn and is an association of dedicated engineers, technicians, scientists, students, radio amateurs and space enthusiasts. They plan, develop, build, operate and use satellites in their spare time. In addition to about 1200 members of AMSAT-DL, there are a good 6000 members in other national AMSAT groups worldwide.
AMSAT-DL is one of the few space organisations to manage satellite projects from planning through development and construction to operations. AMSAT DL projects strictly follow the “open source” principle. This means that the techniques and procedures developed can be viewed and used by third parties. This also applies to the findings and research results obtained during operations.
In December 2007, after more than 42 years, the “Central Development Laboratory of the University of Marburg”, also known as “ZEL”, was closed and still rented by AMSAT-DL for a few more years. Since its foundation, the ZEL has also been home to the premises of AMSAT-DL, partly in personnel union. At the same time, AMSAT-DL found a new home in NRW under the radome of the 20m parabolic antenna at the Bochum Observatory, which was practically completed by the move in 2017. The club’s headquarters were also officially moved from Marburg an der Lahn in Hesse to Bochum in North Rhine-Westphalia, bringing an era to an end. Observatory Bochum and AMSAT-DL have been cooperating for a longer period of time since 1997, with the goal of realizing interplanetary missions and conducting scientific experiments. The re-commissioning of the 20m mirror, together with the modernization of the control computers, took place between 2002 and 2004. A special highlight was the first reception of the VOYAGER-1 spacecraft in 2006. Since then, a very large number of interplanetary missions, including to Mars and the Moon, have been regularly observed scientifically.
Board of Directors
AMSAT-DL was founded in 1973 in Marburg/Hesse and for almost 28 years was represented by the 1. chairman Dr. Karl Meinzer DJ4ZC, the 2. chairman Werner Haas DJ5KQ and the treasurer Hans Dörr DF6HD led. Under the leadership of Dr. Karl Meinzer, all AMSAT Phase 3 satellites (P3-A, P3-B/OSCAR-10, P3-C/OSCAR-13 and P3-D/OSCAR-40) were developed here and realized with an international team of engineers and radio amateurs. Karl Meinzer is rightly considered the father of the AMSAT Phase 3 satellites. After the launch and commissioning of OSCAR-40 in 2000, the focus was on Mars, as well as the world’s first Earth-Venus-Earth link by radio amateurs, in preparation and planning for a P5-A Mars mission.
In June 2000 Werner Haas DJ5KQ died after a long illness and Peter Gülzow DB2OS took over provisionally the office of the 2nd Chairman. In March 2001, Peter Gülzow was then appointed to the 1st Chairman of AMSAT-DL elected after Karl Meinzer did not run again for the Board and retired. Peter Gülzow DB2OS has led the association continuously and voluntarily for over 22 years now, but he has been active in AMSAT-DL in various roles since 1983. The positions of the 2. and 3rd chairmen have been held since 2001 by Frank Sperber, Hartmut Pässler, Michael Lengrüßer, Achim Vollhardt, Ralph Lampenscherf and Thilo Elsner, among others.
In addition to the joint feasibility study of a P5-A Moon and Mars mission with DLR, there was finally a proposal for a SYNCART 2.0 project for DLR’s then planned Heinrich Hertz mission in mid-2012. Unfortunately, this project could not be continued because no further payloads could be implemented on the Heinrich Hertz satellite by DLR and operators and the door was closed. However, in the same year, a window literally opened when Peter Gülzow was able to present AMSAT-DL’s previous projects and visions to high-ranking government representatives as a guest at an international amateur radio conference in Doha/Qatar in December 2012. The result is the first geostationary amateur radio satellite QATAR-OSCAR 100 (QO-100) with two AMSAT transponders for narrowband (voice) and wideband (DVB-S2) operation, whose father of the idea and project leader was Peter Gülzow. QO-100 was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Nov. 15, 2018, and has been in continuous operation ever since. After many delays, the launch of the Heinrich Hertz satellite is now scheduled for 2023. In late 2022, AMSAT-DL entered a DLR competition for a ride-on opportunity on a new German microlauncher. The certificate for the co-flight of our ERMINAZ mission on Launcher RFA One of the Rocket Factory Augsburg was presented in December 2023 from the hands of the coordinator of the German government for aerospace, Dr. Anna Christmann. Even though AMSAT looks back on 50 successful and eventful years, the focus is on the future!
(as of May 2023)
|1. chairman||Peter Gülzow, DB2OS||President|
|2. chairman||Thilo Elsner, DJ5YM||Vice-President|
|3. chairman||Charly Eichhorn, DK3ZL||Treasurer|
Registry court: Bochum Local Court, registration number: VR 4666
AMSAT-Germany e. V.
Blankensteiner Strasse 200 A
The objectives of AMSAT-DL are to promote science and research, including for purposes of continuing education and training, by means of space projects.
- Development, construction and operation of space satellites and high-flying communications systems
- Conducting intelligence and space science research.
- Participation of the amateur radio services to arrive at a large number of observation results.
- Publication of the developed research results
In addition to satellite design, development, construction and operation, AMSAT-DL has been particularly involved in nonprofit research and the development of intelligence and space technology. Particular attention was paid to promoting young people’s understanding of technology.
AMSAT-DL’s satellites repeatedly offer young people incentives for technical and scientific work, e.g. in “Jugend forscht”. New technologies and satellite subsystems have provided and continue to provide the material for numerous diploma and doctoral theses.
In the field of communications engineering, HELAPS technology, a method for increasing the efficiency of transmitters, was developed, tested and successfully applied in satellites. The LEILA and RUDAK systems, also developed by AMSAT-DL, improve multiple access in analog and digital systems. In the field of space technology, the optimized real-time operating system IPS as well as magnetically supported swirl wheels for attitude control of satellites were developed.
All AMSAT-DL missions also serve as a platform for scientific and technological research contributed by external groups. For example, experiments to study the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belt or the usability of GPS satellites above the GPS satellite belt are aboard AMSAT-DL satellites. The data of these experiments are transmitted on amateur radio frequencies that can be received legally by everyone. The integration of the amateur radio service increases the number of observation results.
The results of the studies have been published in the AMSAT-DL journal as well as independent publications and are recognized worldwide.
Methods and strategies
AMSAT-DL combines the planning, development, construction and operational management of satellites under one roof. Resources, both financial and manpower, are limited. Therefore, AMSAT-DL has developed completely new, proprietary methods and strategies for realizing space missions. This includes integrated project teams and accessibility between individual developer groups.
The key elements to success are the high level of volunteerism, support from industry and satellite users through donations, research funding, and technology transfer. Engineers, scientists and technicians from all disciplines come together in the basically open project groups. Within the AMSAT-DL missions, they can fully exploit their creativity. The envisioned mission to Mars in particular opens up opportunities for dedicated people to contribute their ideas, energy and support to become a part of an ambitious project.
Technically, AMSAT-DL relies on commercially manufactured mass-produced components from the consumer and automotive sectors, but qualifies them for space suitability through its own tests. This approach is known as COTS (Components Off The Shelf). Bureaucracy within the project teams and throughout AMSAT-DL is limited to the necessary correct documentation.
Successes and milestones
In the late 1970s, under the direction of AMSAT-DL, development began on a generation of Earth satellites in highly elliptical orbits that offer significant advantages over the lower-orbit satellites that preceded them. They open up a worldwide user base in one fell swoop. So far, between 1980 and 2000, a total of four of the so-called. Phase 3 satellites (project designations P3-A to P3-D) realized and launched. Of these, the P3-B (AMSAT OSCAR-10) and P3-D (AMSAT OSCAR-40) satellites are still in orbit.
Key power supply components were contributed to the UoSAT-OSCAR 9 (UO-9) satellite in 1981. UO-9 is still in operation after 25 years of service.
In 1992, the RUDAK-II system for AMSAT OSCAR-21 (Radio Sputnik-14) was built by AMSAT-DL and launched on a Russian satellite. RUDAK systems enable the transmission of digital data using transmission methods optimized for space missions.
In collaboration with other AMSAT research groups and universities, numerous satellite systems have been developed over the years with significant participation by AMSAT-DL.
Here are some examples:
- Delivery of a high-efficiency linear transponder from 435 to 145 MHz for AMSAT-OSCAR 7.
- Development of the battery charging control system for UoSAT-OSCAR 9 at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England.
- Improvement of linear transponders during Phase-3 (AMSAT- high elliptical orbit communications satellites).
- Development of a three-arm satellite structure to house an apogee engine and associated tanks.
- Development of an autonomous on-board computer freely programmable from Earth and a proprietary programming language (IPS) optimized for control tasks for Phase-3.
- Assumed project management of the AMSAT-OSCAR 10, OSCAR 13 and OSCAR-40 Phase 3 satellites.
- Delivery of a digital converter (RUDAK = R egenerative Converter for d igital A mateur Radio c ommunication ) within a “Joint Venture” with AMSAT-U (Russia) in the AMSAT-OSCAR 21 project.
- Successful space testing of RISC processor technology for digital signal processing on AMSAT-OSCAR 21 and OSCAR-40.
- Deployment of Square Spectrum Modulation (RSM) developed for digital transmissions on AMSAT-OSCAR 21.
- Design and construction of a new hexagonal satellite structure for Phase 3-D.
- Development and construction of the first magnetic bearing torque wheel for active position control intended for use in space.
- Development and construction of a high-performance power supply for the ATOS plasma engine of the University of Stuttgart, which was successfully tested on OSCAR-40.
- The HELAPS technology and the LEILA module ( Lei stungs- L imit- A nzeige ) were developed in the area of the special research area uncoordinated multiple access .
Planning for the AMSAT P3-E satellite began in early 2000 along with planning for the P5-A Mars mission. In this context, P3-E as a test satellite was intended to test the new technologies required for P5-A in advance, while at the same time linking up with the earlier P3 satellites. Although the P5-A project has not yet been realized, important parts of the P3-E satellite have now been completed. Unfortunately, so far it has not been possible to find a launch opportunity.
Currently, therefore, the main activities are focused on the first geostationary phase-4 amateur radio satellite from Qatar, the Es’hail-2 satellite of Qatar Satellite Company (Es’hailSat). In a cooperative effort with the Qatar Amateur Radio Society (QARS) and Es’hailSat, AMSAT-DL was largely responsible for the concept, concept design and requirements specifications from the outset. In addition, AMSAT-DL designs, builds and installs the required ground facilities at Es’hailSat’s Satellite Control Center (SCC) and QARS headquarters. The ground segment consists of LEILA for the narrowband transponder (NB) and equipment in DVB-S2 standard for reception and transmission of amateur digital television (DATV) in DVB-S2 standard. Es’hail-2 / Phase-4A was launched in November 2018.
We are in discussions with various organizations to develop other message transponder launch opportunities comparable to Es’hail-2 as “hosted payloads.” But Mars and P3-E also remain in focus. In addition, AMSAT-DL, along with other associations, has also submitted proposals to ESA and NASA for an amateur radio payload on the Deep Space Gateway.
As part of AMSAT membership, members regularly receive our AMSAT-DL Journal in print with more in-depth information and also detailed technical articles. The journal also serves as a showcase to scientific and government institutions, as well as the space industry and decision makers.
AMSAT-DL merchandise distribution also provides material to support operations via amateur radio satellites, as well as older AMSAT journals in electronic format.