HOW THE SATELLITE AMATEUR RADIO CLUB GOT ITS NAME
The Satellite Amateur Radio Club, W6AB, was originally formed to act as the point of contact within the amateur radio community for the launch of OSCAR-1, the first "Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio."
OSCAR-1 was launched at 2042 hours UTC (12:42 PST) on December 12, 1961 from Launch Complex One-West (SLC-1W) at Vandenberg AFB, California. It was a piggyback satellite tucked in alongside the Discoverer 36 photo-reconnaissance satellite. The launch vehicle was a Thor Agena B, one of the Air Force's most reliable boosters. The Thor missile was number 325 and was a DM-21 model carrying USAF serial number 60-5560. The nickname given the launch was "Silver Strip."
The international designation for OSCAR-1 was 1961-AK2. The satellite weighed just 5 kilograms, and its orbital parameters were: Period 91.1 minutes, Perigee 245 kilometers, Apogee 474 kilometers and Inclination 81.2 degrees. It transmitted Morse Code for 18 days, falling silent when its primary batteries expired. Unlike later and more advanced OSCAR satellites, our namesake was a transmit-only bird. OSCAR-1 decayed and burned up due to atmospheric heating on January 31, 1962.