Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Abandoned in space in 1967, a US satellite has started transmitting again

In 2013 in North Cornwall, UK, an Amateur Radio Astronomer picked up a signal which he determined to be the LES1 that was built by MIT in 1965. The satellite never made it to its intended orbit and had been spinning out of control ever since.
LES1 was supposed to be delivered to the  2800 x 15000 km orbit, but a failure of a boost stage left LES1 in a 2800 km circular orbit.
Phil Williams, the amateur radio astronomer from near Bude, picked out the odd signal which was transmitting due to it tumbling end over end every four seconds as the solar panels became shadowed by the engine. “This gives the signal a particularly ghostly sound as the voltage from the solar panels fluctuates,” Williams said.
It’s more than likely the onboard batteries have disintegrated, and something else caused its 237Mhz transmission to resume when it was in sunlight.
The LES1 is about the size of a small automobile and should not cause any issues more than any other piece of space junk in orbit.
These old workhorses were clearly built to last. NASA should see if they can make it stop spinning and orient its solar panels to get consistent power.  Or, they can get the aliens to do it for them.


  1. Thanks Mr. Spock (wherever you are).

  2. All those analog TV and spy birds are still up there and most still work just as well as they ever did. If you have an old "big dish" and decoder you can still down load the signal. " The signal go's everywhere Mal. You can't stop the signal"

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