Limited amateur radio operation has commenced on Es’hail 2, a Qatari satellite launched late last year.

Its primary mission is to provide direct-to-home television services in the Middle East and North Africa region. But the spacecraft also carries two “Phase 4” amateur radio transponders operating in the 2400 MHz and 10450 MHz bands. A 250 kHz bandwidth linear transponder intended for conventional analogue operations and an 8 MHz bandwidth transponder for experimental digital modulation schemes and DVB amateur television.

Hams have longed dreamed about having a transponder in a stationary orbit and now they have one, though it’s parked over a hemisphere that doesn’t include North America. Disappointing as that may be for those of us “over here” the platform provides plenty of opportunity for study and learning in the hope that we may one day gain access to a similar resource covering our hemisphere.

One way to indirectly participate is to access the online Web SDR receiver that’s streaming live audio collected at the Goonhilly Earth Station. You can listen to live traffic from the amateur transponder when it’s active. Given its footprint, much of that traffic won’t be in English (though I’ve monitored several English speaking QSO’s) but you can certainly get a feel for what it would be like to have access to this kind of a communication platform on orbit.