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re info on OSCAR 11, VE2DWE

To Luc Leblanc, VE2DWE, AMSAT Member 33583

>From Larry Kayser, VA3LK, AMSAT Life Member #3

Re: the battery in OSCAR 11, UOSAT 2

Greetings Luc:

You will have to tell everyone on the AMSAT reflector that I did NOT put you up to asking a question about the battery in OSCAR 11!

Yes it is 20 years ago on March 1st that a battery assembled and tested in Ottawa, Ontario just a few hundred miles west of your home, was flown on OSCAR 11!

The battery was the result of almost 10 years of work done in Ottawa.  During the 5 year life of OSCAR VI, while I methodically sent over 5 million commands to that satellite I watched that little satellite die from a frankly lousy battery.  I became interested in batteries and specifically in how to make a good battery for a satellite.  You can read about the work, just Google “VA3LK battery” and you can read the story from a web site in New Zealand and also from an .edu site on the US west coast.  It will tell you how I was so lucky to finally develop a hypothesis that solved the problem.  There is now no justification for flying a lousy battery in a small spacecraft – even if the cells are made, as they are, with the mixing of components by a front-end loader.

The real achievement was however only made possible by finding someone who would let us build them a battery to fly in space.  That battery has now lasted a very long time - over 80,000 charge and discharge cycles, try that with modern batteries you find on electric tools!  The real success was only made possible when Dr. Martin Sweeting, G3YJO had enough faith, and he needed a battery pretty badly hi, to let myself and some friends in Ottawa build a battery for OSCAR 11.  It was he who let us have enough cells from which we invoked the hypothesis and sent him after many months of testing the best cells we could make from a starting set of some 200 cells.  Without his acceptance of the risk, really a very huge risk in that time, the work would have gone without a real demonstration.  Later the same process of battery development was used for the OSCARs 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19.  

So now you know the story about the battery in OSCAR 11.

I recently heard OSCAR 11 on a handheld while I was a passenger on a car trip to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Hearing the signal as we rolled along Interstate 81 brought back memories of sending email through that satellite and a trip to the beach in Hawaii to show that such things could be done with the DCE box in the satellite.  But that is another story for another time..

My best to you and yours Luc - Good Luck in your AMSAT activities.

Larry Kayser

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