Robert Brand – Speaker

Robert Brand Speaking at Spacefest VI 2014

Need a Speaker for that Special Dinner?

Want a passionate and entertaining speaker for your event? Someone that motivates, tells a story with enthusiasm and clarity, someone that has done it all!

Robert spoke at Spacefest in Pasadena, Ca in May 2014 and received comments such as “that presentation alone was worth the cost of registration”.

Twitter messages continued for weeks after the event. This one from @cybernova: Reminiscing on how incredible the 3D images of Mars and the lunar landing looked. Huge thanks to @robertbrand for putting that together! – 29 May 2014

So why the excitement? Robert is a skilled presenter who speaks about topics ranging from Space to Inspiring kids to think big.

Robert presenting in CroatiaYes Space! Robert is one of Australia’s leading space entrepreneurs and building space services and some a space craft. At the age of 17 he even worked on the Apollo 11 switching centre in Sydney that brought the world the feed of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. Since then he has worked in supported most of NASA’s Apollo missions, Skylab, Voyager and was stationed at the Parkes Telescope for ESA’s Giotto probe to Halleys Comet.

Robert worked in Communications for these space events, but at the age of 59 migrated quickly into the Space sector, making an instant hit world wide. He has appeared many times on ABC Radio on such shows as Linda Mottram’s Morning Show in Sydney (702), Richard Glover’s Drive (702) The Science Show, Radio Australia’s Breakfast Club and many stations around Australia.

ABC Radio’s Linda Mottram: Robert Brand’s expansive vision for Australia in aerospace is inspiring and exciting. He has the kind of energy and vision that could easily make Australia a leader. How starkly it contrasts with the mundane pronouncements from political leaders that leave so many of our best brains running for the door.

Internationally he has appeared on Radio in the UK, The Space Show in the US and This Week in Science (US). He has also had many TV appearances in Australia commenting on current space matters.

Robert speaks regularly at Spacefest in the US where he competes for a speaking spot with space experts from all over the world. He has spoken for the last 3 consecutive years on the same program as Apollo astronauts, mission controllers, planetary scientists and the key note speakers like Prof. Brian Cox (UK) and Dr Carolyn Porco. He has also spoken at ISDC and space conferences throughout Australia as well as Engineers Australia. The video below shows Robert and his son Jason (12) in Croatia launching balloons and being interviewed on Croatian TV. Robert is not just someone that did something great in the past, he is pushing forward into new and amazing frontiers.

Robert’s subjects although they appear mainly science and space oriented; include:

  • Motivating youth to achieve their goals
  • 3D slide presentations
  • Using Social Media to accelerate career change
  • Thinking outside of the box to stimulate new ideas and create change when budgets diminish
  • Wild Sports. Diving with sharks, cave diving, flying ultralights, gliding, climbing, abseiling, etc
  • Stratospheric balloons – 19 successful flights and recoveries – breaking records.

His presentation slides are mainly original material from many of his exploits, balloon and space work, but he does not repeat any text from the screen. His presentations are all about natural speech and because “he knows his stuff” he talks effortlessly to engage the audience.

Robert and Jason presenting in CroatiaHe sometimes speaks with his 12 year old son Jason. Jason is an accomplished speaker and demonstrates how a young mind can grow when not limited by normal constraints. Jason will be attempting to break the sound barrier with a Radio Controlled aircraft in the next 12 months. He will fly it as if he is in the cockpit using a video radio link and home built equipment all of his design.

Jason has spoken at Engineers Australia with his father and in front of 100 scientists in Croatia.

Robert Brand’s speaking fees are $3,000 for a dinner, lunch or breakfast engagement in Sydney. Other cities or engagements will need to be subject to a quotation.

As an introductory offer, for 2014, his standard fee, if booked direct, will be 50% off.

$1,500

Robert’s style is passionate and energetic and he moves and gesture a lot. Boring is not in his vocabulary. He sometimes challenges the audience so there is usually a bit of interaction. He also uses the occasional prop. A cordless microphone is preferred. A projector and laser pointer are essential and he must use my own PC if doing a 3D presentation.

Balon Stellar - Stratosfera 30km and RoverRobert is also the head of the Communications, Tracking and Data for Stellar – a space company sending a rover to the moon in the next three years. Jason is the Australian Student Representative. Together they travel internationally to talk about Space and to launch Stratospheric Balloons with student payloads to help stimulate space science in those countries. They have just returned from Croatia.

Robert will speak at “no cost” or a cost recovery basis on occasional Radio and TV interviews as well as presentations for small associations, not for profit groups and student focused groups. Simply ask.

Call +61 448 881 101

Robert and Jason presenting in Croatia

KickSat – Owning a Spacecraft.

kicksatKickSat – Our Personal Spacecraft

Hey, guys, be jealous. Be very jealous! Jason and I own 1/3 of a real spacecraft that will fly in 18 days aboard a Falcon9. It is a resupply craft for the ISS, so it will be in sight of the International Space Station. So not only will it fly in space, it will have been close to the ISS!

It is to be launched with a lot of others from a special box that will eject all of the Kicksats It is sometimes called the Mothership. After three days flying free after being released, our spacecraft will flutter back to earth somewhere, probably intact. It will never be found, but no matter. My very own (part of a) spacecraft will have flown in space and back. How many of you can say that! This will be one great space adventure.

Pictured top right is a prototype. I keep this in my wallet to show people how tiny a spacecraft can be. People just don’t believe it until they see it. The big silver area is where the solar panel sits. The computer and radio receiver and transmitter are the chip in the middle. HAM radio will supply the ground links. Yes, this is just one crazy experiment – a swarm of spacecraft all able to communicate with each other and with earth.

MissionClockSpaceX Falcon9 Resupply Mission

This launches in 18 days. There is a great iPhone App and probably one for Android. It is Called MissionClock. You can follow the launch of the Falcon9 and the KickSats. This is of special interest to the creator of MissionClock as he has also invested in a KickSat. The picture on the left is the main screen for the resupply flight and the KickSat mission. I have used this application for many years. It is really good and I recommend it.

Before the flight I will provide the links to be able to track the swarm and our little craft.

If you are a HAM radio operator, I can help organise the information that you need to help with the tracking.

This flight is ground breaking. It is both a swarm and a crowd funded flight.

The Flight in More Detail

Once in orbit, the Falcon 9 will release the Dragon towards the ISS and, a few minutes later, pop the KickSat mothership into orbit. Did you see the movie “Gravity”? The slight delay is to avoid a space debris disaster like the movie. It’d be a risk if all those tiny satellites end up pinging around the world at high speed in exactly the same orbit as the space station.

The mothership will spend at least seven days in orbit before the sprites (the tiny KickSats) are released. “There are some space debris mitigation concerns,” admits Zac Manchester – the creator of the project, “but we’ve worked with the ISS Program Office to make sure it’s safe for the ISS.” The sprites’ orbit is so low that they will only survive for around three days before the upper atmosphere drags them to destruction.

What do They Do?

Some of the sprites will do little more than go beep, like the original Sputnik, others will transmit identification codes and some will even be used for science. Those fitted with magnetometers – like the ones that provide your smartphone compass – will transmit data about the Earth’s magnetic field. Others will send back information on temperature, orientation or radiation.

Stay tuned for more details on the flight. It will end in about one month’s time. That is the mothership below ejecting the Sprites – or KickSats. Who owns the other 2/3rds of the craft? S some Facebook friends and I chipped in #100 each to buy this baby.

KickSat Mothership

 

 

Robert Band at Spacefest IV 2012 (Archives)

Australia’s Space History at Spacefest IV

by Robert Brand.

As many of you know that I have recently moved into the Space sector, but I am not talking about just comms. I am talking about designing and engineering a space mission.

Because of this I was asked to speak at Spacefest IV. It was held at Tucson Arizona in the US. My talk was on a bit of the past and the future. In fact it was this talk detailing my experiments at 20-30km that got me the space mission job.

After 18 hours from waking to arriving at Las Angeles with no sleep, I drove the 10 hours to Tucson.Quite a trip and I did try to sleep and rest along the way, but managed to get there safely. It was an amazing resort (J. W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort) with a facilities you can only dream about like the massive circulation pool and water slide. This picture was taken close to my room.

I was in interesting territory. This all started just over 3 years ago when I was contacted to do an amateur radio moon bounce event to celebrate the Apollo 11 40th anniversary. Since then things have grown and I was drawn into amateur rocketry and amateur satellites. My balloon experiments at 20km and 30km got noticed as did my current attempt at purchasing the  Jamesburg Earth Station. I ended up on the speakers’ list at Spacefest IV and I was amongst some formidable speakers. I was amongst Apollo astronauts and moon-walkers, mission controllers and planetary geologists. I certainly had to given them their money’s worth (they were paying). Until my talk I was enjoying the visual feast of the area and the people. There were about 18 astronauts and mostly Apollo astronauts.

All the astronauts are pictured here – That’s Al Worden with his shoes off. He was getting annoyed at the long time it took to shoot the photos and got a little fidgety:

Above: There is a crew member from every manned Apollo flight represented in this photo. Apollo 7: Cunningham, Apollo 8: Gordon, Apollo 9: Scott, Apollo 10: Cernan, Apollo 11: Aldrin, Apollo 12: Bean, Apollo 13: Haise, Apollo 14: Mitchell, Apollo 15: Scott & Worden, Apollo 16: Duke, Apollo 17: Cernan, Skylab 2: Weitz, Skylab 3: Bean & Lousma, Skylab 4: Gibson, ASTP: Brand.

I even got to meet the elusive Buzz Above: Aldrin, but he does not let his guard down easily and unless you are signing a $400 autograph it is hard to speak with him..

My talk went over very well. I told the story of Carnavon, Paddington and Moree’s contribution to Apollo 11 and other missions such as ESA’s Giotto probe to Halleys Comet. It was a fantastic opportunity to remind the US that they did not do this all by themselves. Well they pretty much did, but I certainly reminded them that Australia was important in the actual mission as the earth turned!

Above: Even my namesake Vance Brand, command pilot of the Apollo Soyuz mission was on hand and we got along famously just because I had the same name as his brother! That is us below:

The talk covered the Paddington site, manned by NASA staff:

Above: In the lead up to talking about NASA and OTC’s Carnarvon site I mentioned this story that I published here a few months ago – in fact it is a cut and past from the exOTC website:

 

Above: I went on to talk about the current high altitude experiments and the future of Do-It-Yourself Space – experiments that I am doing with my 10 year old son Jason who has his amateur radio license

 

I am looking forward to next year’s Spacefest where I expect to be in late May 2013. Here is a video of a few parts of my talk. The photographer accidentally interprets the bit about  the Giotto mission as tracking rogue asteroids, but he only filmed fragments and put some words together. Thanks to my good friend John Sullivan for the video.

High Altitude Balloon Experiments

Here is a picture taken at 26km from a recent weather balloon flight from Rankin Springs in central NSW:

You can click and click again to enlarge the image. Use the “Back” button to return here.

Below is a little image to show how amazing the results are even at 26 km. my photos are unaltered and taken from the above image:

The Sydney Morning Herald did a story on one of the flights. Here is the video:

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/sydneys-very-own-space-agency-brand-and-son-20120116-1q26j.html

After Spacefest I traveled to Jamesburg and I have already written about that in an earlier post.

 

 

Australia Enters the Space Age – History

wresatAustralia’s WRESAT 1967 – History

Weapons Research Establishment Project: WRESAT

Not WotzUp, but a good bit of Australian History. Some Australian Space history for those interested.

On 29 November 1967, Australia became only the fourth country – after the USA, Soviet Union and France – to launch its own satellite from its own territory.

The battery-powered WRESAT weighed about 45 kilograms and was designed in the form of a cone. Three cones (two test and one actual) were constructed in the development phase, and a range of tests were carried out to ensure the satellite’s durability. As well as the durability tests, the final experiment tested the ejection of the protective plate covering the instrumentation during flight. In the early days of rocket and satellite work, countless experiments were lost due to the failure of covers to eject.

The scientific instrumentation carried by WRESAT followed on from previous upper atmospheric research that had been conducted at Woomera using sounding rockets. Among other things, WRESAT’s sensors and detectors measured solar radiation and its effects on temperature and composition of the upper atmosphere. The satellite was able to collect atmospheric information covering the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere and the mid-latitudes of the southern hemisphere – areas where measurements hadn’t previously been taken.

wresatHaving arrived at Woomera from Orroral Valley, and after some final checking and testing of experiment instrumentation, the satellite was transported to its launch vehicle. Reportedly the American team was horrified at the sight of WRESAT bumping around in the back of an open truck. The Australians argued that if it couldn’t withstand the short ride, it was not likely to withstand a lift-off. By launch stage, the rocket had been painted white for ease of tracking.

This sequence of the film is actually a bit misleading. The launch was originally intended for 28 November 1967. The six-hour countdown commenced on time, but was aborted 30 seconds from zero due to the failure of a heating-cooler unit to eject. So although the launch, which took place successfully the following day, was historically very significant, very few dignitaries were there to witness it. During WRESAT’s orbiting life of 42 days, it went around the world 642 times and transmitted scientific data on 73 of them, until its batteries were exhausted.

Team Stellar Business Card

Team Stellar (Archive)

Team Stellar Business CardTeam Stellar and The Google Lunar X Prize

*** Retrieved from Archives ***

Posted on by

by Robert Brand

Three years ago I had nothing to do with space other than Moon Bounce – using amateur radio to bounce signals off the moon and back to earth.

Today I just accepted the roll of manager for Communications, Navigation and Data (CND) for an attempt to land a probe on the moon and beam back video from a rover that has to travel 500m. The team is called Team Stellar and it is new. The team is in competition for the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP). What is the GLXP? From their website:

The Google Lunar X PRIZE is igniting a new era of lunar exploration by offering the largest international incentive prize of all time. A total of $30 million in prizes are available to the first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send video, images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded, though commercially reasonable sales to government customers are allowed without limit.

Team registration for the competition closed on December 31, 2010. There are currently 26 teams located around the world who are fundraising, mission planning, and building robots in a new race to the Moon — what we like to call, “Moon 2.0″. The teams have until the end of 2015 to get to the Moon, meet the prize objectives, and win the prize purses.

You can look at their website here: http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/

Team Stellar

As you may have noticed, registration had closed and that meant that the new players had to buy an old team to make this a reality. So who or what is the new Team Stellar?

You can look here: http://teamstellar.org

I am not on the site yet, but this will happen soon. This is the mission:

Apollo Landing Sites

Team Stellar is one of 25 teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize and plans to send a robotic spacecraft to the Moon. The Google Lunar X prize is an international moon exploration challenge organized by the X Prize Foundation, and sponsored by Google, to land a robotic craft on the lunar surface, to travel at least 1,650 feet (500 meters) and send data and high definition images back to Earth. The first privately funded team to do this by Dec. 31, 2015, will receive the $20 million grand prize.

Team Stellar’s spacecraft and rover plan to navigate to the Moon, execute a soft landing on the surface, and conduct and extended exploration of the lunar surface all while streaming live 3D Stereoscopic High Definition video back to Earth.

KGo Aerospace and i7 Engineering are sponsoring Team Stellar and are driving the development of the spacecraft through strategic partnerships with other aerospace and technology companies around the United States. Team Stellar has partnered with i7 Engineering to development the rover vehicle and all supporting systems.

My company PlusComms, is also involved. It will be a partner. More on that later. It is early days and there is a lot to learn. I will be traveling around the world a lot with this role and I need to get lots of support for the navigation side of this!!!

Jamesburg Visit (Archives)

Visiting Jamesburg Earth Station (USA)

*** Retrieved from Archives ***

AT&T’s Jamesburg Dish Visit – by Robert Brand

Jamesburg Visit

In early June 2012 I visited the Jamesburg site with the intention of surveying the site and turning it into a data centre. The site was abandoned by AT&T in 2002 following the attacks on the NY World Trade Center buildings. It was thought by AT&T that Jamesburg was too vulnerable to aircraft attack of a similar nature. I recently set up a company that is now looking to buy the site. The 2 day Jamesburg visit was like a trip back in time as many of the site’s offices and systems were still fully intact.

The picture above shows that the dish is still able to move as it was taken out of stow for a movie being made on site at the time of my visit. The large vertical appendage on the left of the structure is a covered stairway giving access to the upper rooms. Although the tracking system is still installed, the owner was using a manual controller. The tracking system is shown below (Note you can click on the images to enlarge them):

The halls are still filled with pictures of the Intelsat family that was worked by Jamesburg and the battery room still filled with batteries:

The power switchboard is also 100% active and capable of switching half a megawatt.

Below is the current owner (Jeff Bullis – r) with his nephew (Scotty – l) in the lunchroom as it was when it was vacated – fully operational and well appointed. I am in the picture on the right with the rather interesting map with 2 Australias. One showing the pacific Intelsat coverage and the other showing the Indian Ocean Intelsat coverage.

The site had a room filled with filling cabinets with every bit of AT&T correspondence. A Jamesburg fax cover sheet is seen below (left). The waveguide below the dish is able to swivel and transition from the vertical to the horizontal in the photo to the right.

I certainly remember working with Jamesburg regularly on day shift as the morning US TV news feed was sent to Paddington from Moree. It is amazing to think that this site was so completely abandoned 10 years ago. It is like using a time machine to go back to when it was operational. An amazing experience   More on Jamesburg in a future post.

World Moon Bounce – Part 2 (Archives)

Robert Brand - Parkes

World Moon Bounce – 2009

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The Wireless Institute of Australia Magazine Article WMBD

Below is some of the article on the Echoes of Apollo World Moon Bounce Day (WMBD). Much of it was written by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) staff members Rex Moncur VK7MO and Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW for the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA):

27 June 2009 was designated World Moon Bounce Day as an amateur radio contribution to the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. The event was organized by Echoes of Apollo – a joint project between Pat Bathelow (US) and Robert Brand (Australia). Key to the success of the event was the contribution of the Overseas Telecommunications Veterans Association. (OTVA) A key objective was to involve and interest school children in science and amateur radio by allowing children to hear voices from the moon. The event was supplemented by amateur Earth Moon Earth (EME) stations all around the world and particularly those with SSB capability on 23 cm.

Within Australia the University of Tasmania agreed to take part using their 26 metre dish which was originally used by NASA in the Orroral Valley near Canberra between 1964-1985 after which it was gifted to the University and transported to Mt Pleasant, near Richmond in southern Tasmania. Our involvement was to provide amateur EME equipment, help set up and test the system and operate the station on the day. As it eventuated the availability of large dishes provided the opportunity to explore QRP EME at as low a level as possible and we are pleased to report completion of a JT65 EME contact between the University of Tasmania’s 26 metre dish and a Dutch 25 metre dish, PI9CAM, with the Tasmanian end running only three milliwatts.

Mount Pleasant Radio Telescope UTAS

Setting up the University of Tasmania dish

While Dr Jim Lovell of the University of Tasmania willingly offered their dish and the support of the site technician Eric Baynes (VK7BB) it was first necessary to consider what was practical. At our first meeting it became clear that transmitting any sort of high power as required for SSB would be out of the question as the dish is fitted with five extremely sensitive liquid helium cooled receivers working from 4 to 22 GHz. There is no protection for RF and we could not risk damage to these receivers which are involved in ongoing international research programs. Accordingly, the Echoes of Apollo team where advised that we would contribute to the event but as a receive station only.

40 Year Anniversary Apollo 11The feeds and receivers for the 26 metre dish are mounted in a small feed cabin (a cube approximately two metres per side) behind a Teflon window approximately one metre in diameter. Within the cabin there is a remotely controlled three axis focus frame that allows the feeds and receivers to be moved into the correct focal position depending on which feed is in use. There is space for a two GHz non-cooled feed and receiver which fortunately was not required around the time of the Echoes of Apollo event and the University agreed that this could be removed and replaced with a 23 cm antenna. Because of space limitations it was decided to use a small three turn helical. There is over 100 metres of LDF-4-50 coax between the dish and the control building where we could operate and for this reason we decided to down-convert at the feed and receive on 144 MHz. Eric constructed a down-converter and the VK7MO EME station provided pre-amplifiers, 144 MHz receiver, GPS frequency reference, computer running WSJT and bandpass filters at 1296 MHz and 144 MHz to limit interference from microwave systems at the nearby Hobart airport.

A few weeks prior to the event tests were conducted with Dave VK2JDS, with JT65c signal levels much worse than expected at -9 dB and no prospect of copying SSB. A sun noise test gave around 18 dB compared to 27 to 28 dB determined with the VK3UM EME calculator. The time for testing was limited as this is an operational radio astronomy research facility but the system was gradually refined with additional pre-amps and filters and through adjusting levels at all stages – as well as resolving the occasional “Murphy” problem. Finally we decided that the helical feed must be the remaining limitation and did some estimates to see if a Septum feed and choke ring could be physically mounted. Initially it fouled other equipment but after a redesign of the mount is was successfully installed. In the end we achieved a sun noise of 25 dB which was within a few dB of what could be expected. Every time the system needed adjustment Eric had to don a safety harness and go up in a cherry picker .

The story above is part of the article in the Amateur Radio magazine, a publication of the Wireless Institute of Australia.

World Moon Bounce – Part 1 (Archives)

World Moon Bounce 2009 & 2010 – Part 1

*** Retrieved from Archives ***

Robert BrandJust before the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 in 2009, I got contacted by a gentleman wanting to do a commemorative HAM radio event between the Jamesburg Earth Station and the Parkes Radio telescope. His name was Pat Barthelow. Moon Bounce is basically bouncing signals off the moon and back to earth and using big dishes to do the work. In the week before the Apollo 11 40th Anniversary (July 2009) dishes from all over the world took part in World Moon Bounce Day (WMBD) and it was a great success. Notably Jamesburg and Parkes never took part!

We had support locally from the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and financial support from the OTVA to make this happen. Kids from all over the world took part in WMBD. We broke records with a 3mW transmission from the old NASA Orroral Valley dish (now in Tasmania with UTAS) and a dish in the Netherlands – both 30m dishes. The data was successfully decoded and a new record set. The gain in these dishes is massive – about 60dB each for the technical. It is great to think that the gains of dirt on the surface of the moon where shaking ever so slightly and reflecting back the voices of children for a global hookup.

The story of World Moon Bounce Day and the 2010 World Moon Bounce event is below and taken from the Echoes of Apollo Website. The 2010 event turned more into a week long event as my partner in crime in the US – Pat Barthelow – managed to secure the Aricebo Dish for a week or so! This was written before the 2010 event:

World Moon Bounce Events:

World Moon Bounce Day Logo 2010

EOA April 17th 2010

This major event will add a new word to most people’s vocabulary – Moon Bounce. Moon Bounce has been happening for almost as long as the oldest of us can remember. From the early days when it was thought to be a  means of communications that the military could exploit right through to today’s more peaceful use by amateur radio hobbyists. So what is moon bounce? Also known technically as Earth-Moon-Earth transmissions (EME), it is simply bouncing radio waves off the moon’s surface and back to earth. Every day hundreds of people enjoy doing just that and they do it as everyday people using mainly homemade dishes and antennas and  a mix of “do it yourself” systems, electronics and “off the shelf” equipment.

So why hold World Moon Bounce Day? At Echoes of Apollo we are both interested in space (especially the moon) and amateur radio. We created an event to highlight both of these amazing areas of interest. We are also looking to the commercial world to take part soon and make this an event for the whole world to enjoy

On Saturday, April 17th, many of the world’s large parabolic antennas (sometimes called dishes) along with hundreds of amateur radio operators and their gear will stop their normal work and swing around to track the moon when it rises. Volunteers will then use the EME or Moon Bounce transmissions to link up with other dishes and antennas worldwide via the moon. Signals are literally being bounced off the moon’s surface and back to other stations on earth where they are received some 2.5 seconds later. Yes, at an atomic level we are actually shaking each atom on the moon’s surface every so slightly and they then radiate the signal back into space and to earth where we again use our high gain antennas and dishes to receive them

moon_bounce

The sites will be run by volunteers from the amateur radio community and they will be helping local youth talk to other youth from around the world in a “Jamboree of the Air” style event. This type of activity has happened before but never on this scale. One  fantastic demonstration was a small Moon Bounce occurred in 2007  to celebrate the UK’s Jodrell Bank Telescope’s 50th anniversary generated press and TV coverage. Children read and listened to their poetry being bounced of the moon. Jodrell Bank held another event in 2009, but it was a small event with a local transmitter.

The first World Moon Bounce Day held in June 2009 was huge by comparison with much high voice quality in comparison given the sizes of the big dishes at both ends that were involved. The bigger they are, the more effective power they will radiate and also the more power they gather and concentrate for reception.

Web video of World Moon Bounce Day on June 27th will be available on this website with feeds from multiple sites, so you can see all the action taking place. We have invited some of the world’s biggest dishes an a wealth of important people. We already have several large antennas taking part and we will provide a list shortly.

Why April 17th 2010?

At Echoes of Apollo we celebrate the amazing achievements of the Apollo astronauts and their vast numbers of support staff, whether part of the rocket design team, mission control or NASA‘s global communications network. We simply have the most incredible team ever assembled with a single goal that was beyond anyones expertise at the time of its announcement 10 years earlier. We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 with out first annual World Moon Bounce Day and this year we will be honoring Apollo 13′s return to earth 40 years earlier. Echoes of Apollo still believe that this mission was one of the most amazing and riveting stories of the space age. It is the only Hollywood movie made of any of he Apollo missions.

Arecibo Puerto Rico

This year, April 16,17,18, Echoes of Apollo Moon Bounce, a fun, educational, science outreach activity, will conduct 2 way Voice communications by bouncing radio signals off the Moon.  One day of the event, Saturday, the 17th, has been assigned the Moniker, “World Moon Bounce Day”.  Commonly known among the specialist amateur radio operators (hams) that do this,  as EME, for Earth-Moon- Earth,  this time, the Echoes of Apollo Moon Bounce event is quite special, and opens a big door of opportunity for Science outreach.The Arecibo Observatory amateur radio club has built an amateur radio EME station at the Arecibo 1000 ft dish.  Angel Vazquez, club president, is working with his team of radio amateurs and have produced a 500 watt station that will operate in the 70cm band, on 432.045 mhz.  The 500 watts at the feed of 58 dbi gain dish will produce a very loud signal that will be bounced from the moon, and can be heard, using very modest antennas.

On March 19, and 22, Arecibo conducted a test of their station on the air, establishing 2 way Moon Bounce contact with many ham radio operators all over the world.  The test, established that the very strong return signals from the moon, can be picked up, using radio communications receivers capable receiving 432.045 MHz  SSB and/or CW signals, and equipped with small, yagi antennas.

As a science/Education  outreach activity,  EOA  co founder, Pat Barthelow, has arranged for amateur radio mentors, and teachers, to supervise the construction of very simple, cheap yagi antennas that can be used to hear the moon bounced signals, returned to earth.  The yagi antennas are easy and cheap to build, according to published designs, and made from wooden  1 x 2 sticks, about 3-6 feet long, and welding rod,copper or aluminum wire.

 

Pat Barthelow: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1535563951&ref=ts

Robert Brand: http://www.facebook.com/Echoes.Of.Apollo?ref=profile

So far we have moon bounce-capable stations in the US, Europe,  and,  of course Arecibo in Puerto Rico. (Look up on Google Earth, latitude 18.33 degrees north, and Longitude 66.75 degrees West

Some other stations in Europe planning on participating,  are:

Dwingeloo dish run by the CAMRAS group in Holland, http://www.camras.nl

HB9MOON 10 meter Dish, in Chur Switzerland,  run by Christoph, HB9HAL:

http://www.radiosky.ch/home.php?nav=amateurfunk&page=eoa

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dishes at their Haystack facility. MIT based  Radio Amateurs are anticipated to be active with MIT station setup and operating.

The world wide event,  will have different stations around the world communicating whenever the moon is visible between them, and in the case of Arecibo, there will be two hour windows of operations, each of the three scheduled days. Arecibo only has limited time viewing the moon due the limited “steering” of about 20 degrees

On this weekend, this translates to operating times from Arecibo of:

Apr 16 1645 – 1930 UTC

Apr 17 1740 – 2020 UTC

Apr 18 1840 – 2125 UTC

FFI:   Pat Barthelow AA6EG (Founder of Echoes of Apollo)

Echoes of Apollo

apolloeme@live.com

Here is a video of the event from UTAS in 2009:

The large antenna, pictured below, at Mt Pleasant in Tasmania, Australia (University of Tasmania) is typical of the antennas that will be involved in Moon Bounce and it took part inthe 2009  World Moon Bounce Day. Photo by Jim Lovell of UTAS.

mount_pleasant_observatory

Another big dish was the SRI – Stanford 150ft Dish (45m). The reports from the site were amazing and the excitement high. Pat Barthelow reports via phone during the final 5 hours of the 2009 event as they were working Europe and Australia was coming back into view. You can hear Pat’s report below.

http://www.echoesofapollo.com/audio/World_Moon_Bounce_Day_20090627.mp3

Christop Joos from Switzerland reports on our 2009 Event

http://www.radiosky.ch/images/spaceparty/EoA_Kids_hb9moon.jpgClick the link below to hear Swiss greetings via the moon

Greetings from Switzerland via the moon

Kids talking via the moon for World Moon Bounce Day.

“First of all many Thanks to all who helped us talking to our non Radio Amateurs, Visitors and Children of course. Special Thanks to Dough VK3UM how had to answer many questions about his “Crocodile” in his shack :-)

More than 300 Visitors, many Families, Swiss Television, News Journalists, joined our outstanding Party.

We also had ON4BCB, Walter on board and many Swiss Radio Amateurs and youngest YL too. 45 Children took this chance to send a short Message to the Moon. And a few did a great job and learned very quickly how we communicate. Who knows maybe one of them will become Hamsone day  too… Swiss Television will report from EoA HB9MOON on Monday evening during Prime-time! It was an unforgettable event for us!

Christoph, HB9HAL / HB9MOON

The following is Swiss TV coverage of the Echoes of apollo event on World Moon Bounce Day 2009:

Our June 2009 event featured Apollo astronaut Bill Anders who reportedly had a great time talking to the world via the moon. We are hoping to have an even bigger lineup of guests and they will be featured in interviews with the Echoes team after the event. You will be able to listen to the broadcast via the moon on the Internet. We have some large dishes taking part and that announcement will be coming soon so please stand by for more information. Echoes of Apollo salutes all the amateur radio operators that make this event possible.

Is There any Science Being Done?

Yes, plenty. Even setting this gear up is a major challenge to get it right. Not only do many of the scientist that take part find the effort rewarding, they all find that they learn a lot from working with amateur radio operators. The staff at the Mt Pleasant dish (above) also broke world records during our 2009 event sending data to the moon and having received as viable data in the Netherlands and their transmitter was only 3 milliwatts – about 1/1000th the power of a bright incandescent flashlight. The gain and accuracy of big dishes can achieve some amazing results.

What Frequencies will be used?

Any frequency that operators can legally utilise. Most amateur radio operators will be using frequencies of about 1.3GHz which is almost half that used in microwave ovens and Wireless computer networks. This frequency is the best for bouncing signals off the Moon’s surface. Some possible commercial operator may use frequencies as high as 12GHz.

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World Moon Bounce Day 2009

Below is some of the article on the Echoes of Apollo World Moon Bounce Day. Much of the article was written by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) staff members Rex Moncur VK7MO and Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW for the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA):

27 June 2009 was designated World Moon Bounce Day as an amateur radio contribution to the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. The event was organized by Echoes of Apollo – a joint project between Pat Bathelow (US) and Robert Brand (Australia). Key to the success of the event was the contribution of the Overseas Telecommunications Veterans Association. (OTVA) A key objective was to involve and interest school children in science and amateur radio by allowing children to hear voices from the moon. The event was supplemented by amateur Earth Moon Earth (EME) stations all around the world and particularly those with SSB capability on 23 cm.

Within Australia the University of Tasmania agreed to take part using their 26 metre dish which was originally used by NASA in the Orroral Valley near Canberra between 1964-1985 after which it was gifted to the University and transported to Mt Pleasant, near Richmond in southern Tasmania. Our involvement was to provide amateur EME equipment, help set up and test the system and operate the station on the day. As it eventuated the availability of large dishes provided the opportunity to explore QRP EME at as low a level as possible and we are pleased to report completion of a JT65 EME contact between the University of Tasmania’s 26 metre dish and a Dutch 25 metre dish, PI9CAM, with the Tasmanian end running only three milliwatts.

Setting up the University of Tasmania dish

While Dr Jim Lovell of the University of Tasmania willingly offered their dish and the support of the site technician Eric Baynes (VK7BB) it was first necessary to consider what was practical. At our first meeting it became clear that transmitting any sort of high power as required for SSB would be out of the question as the dish is fitted with five extremely sensitive liquid helium cooled receivers working from 4 to 22 GHz. There is no protection for RF and we could not risk damage to these receivers which are involved in ongoing international research programs. Accordingly, the Echoes of Apollo team where advised that we would contribute to the event but as a receive station only.

The feeds and receivers for the 26 metre dish are mounted in a small feed cabin (a cube approximately two metres per side) behind a Teflon window approximately one metre in diameter. Within the cabin there is a remotely controlled three axis focus frame that allows the feeds and receivers to be moved into the correct focal position depending on which feed is in use. There is space for a two GHz non-cooled feed and receiver which fortunately was not required around the time of the Echoes of Apollo event and the University agreed that this could be removed and replaced with a 23 cm antenna. Because of space limitations it was decided to use a small three turn helical. There is over 100 metres of LDF-4-50 coax between the dish and the control building where we could operate and for this reason we decided to down-convert at the feed and receive on 144 MHz. Eric constructed a down-converter and the VK7MO EME station provided pre-amplifiers, 144 MHz receiver, GPS frequency reference, computer running WSJT and bandpass filters at 1296 MHz and 144 MHz to limit interference from microwave systems at the nearby Hobart airport.

A few weeks prior to the event tests were conducted with Dave VK2JDS, with JT65c signal levels much worse than expected at -9 dB and no prospect of copying SSB. A sun noise test gave around 18 dB compared to 27 to 28 dB determined with the VK3UM EME calculator. The time for testing was limited as this is an operational radio astronomy research facility but the system was gradually refined with additional pre-amps and filters and through adjusting levels at all stages – as well as resolving the occasional “Murphy” problem. Finally we decided that the helical feed must be the remaining limitation and did some estimates to see if a Septum feed and choke ring could be physically mounted. Initially it fouled other equipment but after a redesign of the mount is was successfully installed. In the end we achieved a sun noise of 25 dB which was within a few dB of what could be expected. Every time the system needed adjustment Eric had to don a safety harness and go up in a cherry picker .

The story above is part of the article in the Amateur Radio magazine, a publication of the Wireless Institute of Australia.

Much of the credit for the 2009 World Moon Bounce Day success can be directly attributed to the efforts of the OTVA and other exOTC staff. This has been a fantastic experience and we are looking to grow the 2010 World Moon Bounce Day to even great success. Yes, a world first for OTC staff involvement and a world record! Plenty of Australian amateur radio people got involved and were active bouncing their signals off the moon. I am Now organising the 2010 World Moon Bounce Day for early April. If you wish to help, feel free to raise your hand.

Peter Aylward interviewing Robert Brand

Australia’s Satellite Utilisation Policy

Peter Aylward interviewing Robert BrandRobert Brand Discusses Australia’s Satellite Utilisation Policy

The new Australian Space policy has been watered down to being a Satellite Utilisation Policy. Robert Brand discusses his reaction to the policy. This was broadcast on April 24th 2013. The interview was carried out by Peter Aylward from Melbourne’s Space Show. It is broadcast at 7pm, Wednesdays on Southern FM 88.3MHz. We had just finished visiting the site of the old Honeysuckle Creek tracking station. The site that brought the world Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. These days it is little more than a historic site next to a campground. Only the foundations remain with some interpretive boards.

My son Jason took the picture and note how he placed the sign over my head!

You can Play or Download the show by Clicking Here.

or you can use our flash player:

Team Stellar Appointment (Archives)

PlusComms Square LogoRobert Brand Joins a Reformed Team Stellar

*** Retrieved from Archives ***

Get the background on Team Stellar

Team Stellar is a Google Lunar X Prize contestant. This week I accepted the position of Director of Spacecraft Communications, Navigation and Data. My company PlusComms has accepted a partnering role in providing the communications for the Team Stellar moon mission. That is our new logo pictured above. PlusComms is involved in buying old Satellite Earth Stations and finding new roles for them. We expect that we will be doing this for Team Stellar.

PlusComms has a significant investment in new technology and it is fitting that the older technology also be used in the most modern of moon missions. Of course only the mechanics of the dish are suitable. The electronics, especially on the space communications side, all need to be upgraded. Many dishes are good for almost 100 years of operation if well kept.

MissionTrax CoverageMissionTrax is PlusComms Global Deep Space Network product and it should be providing 24 hour a day global coverage of the sky and space missions using both “S” band and “X” band communications with dishes that are approximately 30m in diameter.

We expect our US west coast site to be available for bookings in the next 6 months.

The diagram to the left is indicative only, but if well placed we will be even able to tack continuously in mid orbit out to Geostationary and past that to the planets.

Our US dish candidate can also track at 1 degree per second making communications with low earth orbit vehicles a reality.

Our US dish will have both Receive and Transmit capabilities. We expect it to support smaller dishes on site and a large data centre. Why am I talking about a company and its abilities in this page? Simply because it is a company built around my person push into the space sector. This website is about my personal interests and activities in space (and near space ballooning) and bringing you along for the ride. I love Do-It-Yourself space (DIY Space) and if I can do this, anyone can if they are motivated enough.

More on PlusComms here: http://pluscomms.com/space-comms/124-2/

Team Stellar

Team Stellar was an old entrant for the Google Lunar X Prize and it has slowed in its efforts to reach the moon. Recently an offer was made and the new Team Stellar arose from the ashes. This only happened ion the last couple of months. With good management and funding, it was easy to accept their offer of being involved in what will be an exciting mission.

Below is their video announcement from July this year detailing an outline of the team structure.

 

A more recent video explains the team makeup in more detail, but it was made a week ago before I had accepted the position with them.

I am pretty excited by all the potential of this team and what it has already accomplished. I will be keeping you all updated with a mission scheduled for 2 years time.

A bit more detail here: http://www.teamstellar.org

PlusComms MissionTrax (Archives)

MissionTrax Coverage*** Retrieved from Archives ***

Building a Global Space Network

This is a project that I am involved in and although it is not a personal project at this time, it is none the less a project that I have instigated. It is a project that is being handled under my Company PlusComms – I am a major shareholder. Press Release below:

Date: Thursday 22nd September 2011

Sydney, Australia

PlusComms Pty Limited based in Sydney, Australia has announced that it is building a Global Deep Space Network (DSN) subject to financing. The project involves 3 x 30m dishes in key locations around the world. The Project, called MissionTrax could be operational by first quarter 2014.

The driver for the project has been to locate large dishes with a 30 year or more lifetime and bring them back to full service. Not only is this a very environmentally friendly approach, but it also has the added benefit of costing 1/10th the price of building a new service with the same specifications. The first dish is located in California on the east coast of the USA. The site will be purchased and refurbished to operational standards, but it will be no longer used as a satellite “Earth station”. It will soon be part of a global network able to continuously track almost anything around the equatorial plane + or – 40 degrees. Although the coverage has yet to be tested at a range of frequencies, it is expected that missions as far away as Mars will have continuous coverage from Earth (excluding the rotation of Mars). The distance to Mars at the at the furthest point from Earth is 401 million km / 250 million miles – that is just under 3 Astronomical Units – or just under 3 times the distance from the earth to the sun. The three sites need to be on longitude that is 120 degrees from each other.

CTO of PlusComms, Robert Brand said “The extent of the coverage of course depends on the frequency being used and the power of the spacecraft. It is expected that communications with spacecraft near outer planets will also be part of the GSN’s capabilities but further testing will be done to confirm the overall performance of each dish and the complete network”.

“Modern satellite technology now allows dishes to be small and able to be placed in city locations. These older 30m dishes were built big to gather the weak signals and were located in “radio signal” quiet areas because the signals were hard to process. This makes these original workhorses redundant for tracking communications satellites, but perfect for building a DSN. Each GSN site will provide overlapping coverage of the previous site at a distance around 30,000 to 35,000km from the Earth’s surface (the blue circle in the attached diagram. These dishes were also built to a high tolerance and have specifications to over 15GHz. They are also Beam Wave Guide (BWG) dishes and thus the signal is beamed in a big tube right to the control room. This allows us to build a railway track to quickly disconnect and shunt in new equipment for different bands and capabilities. It is expected that it will take 45mins to connect and align a unit and 15 minutes to disconnect, allowing a one hour booking for a quick link with a spacecraft or rover / experiment on Mars or the Moon. The site will also provide full TT&C capability to fire engines and control satellites

In addition to the GSN capability, the US site will also be equipped as a large hosting centre for servers and other systems, with the ability to have individual partitions for companies. These sites were built to withstand a nearby blast from a nuclear bomb. With massive concrete walls the US site has amazing security and the ability to act as redundant site for most applications and secure the continued data operations of companies. The site already has fiber connectivity and plenty of room for more dishes. It is expected that this site will have multi-tenant uses.

“We would also like to return something to the global community and stimulate students by allowing automated access for basic Radio Telescope work when not booked for space tracking. We will employ automated systems via the Internet to explore the sky. The large dish may also be used for special events by other not for profit groups” Brand said. “The service will be headquartered in Sydney Australia. With the number of private space missions predicted to climb rapidly and a focus on the Moon and Mars, we expect a real growth in business over the next few years.”

Potential users of the facility should contact:

Robert Brand

robert.brand@pluscomms.com

The Space Show (Archives)

David Livingston*** Retrieved from Archives ***

Robert Brand – Guest on The Space Show

Robert Brand was a guest of Dr David Livingston on the Nov 1st 2011 edition of The Space Show. The program disussed Do-It-Yourself Space and was well received by all that heard it. The WotzUp website and the various missions were discussed at length during the broadcast.

The program can be hear by Click Here to Listen 

The Space Show page for the show archive can be viewed by Clicking Here to View

The page details are as follows:

Guest: Robert Brand.

Topics: Australian space history, Save Our Space Systems, old style radio dish antennas, space education outreach in Australia. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Robert Brand as our guest to discuss space advocacy, space interests, education, and projects in Australia. I suggest you visit and have available the following websites while listening to this program: 1) http://wotzup.com. This site has the tabs and pages for many of the programs discussed by our guest. 2). http://echoesofapollo.com. 3) http://pluscomms.com. Click on the Space-Comms tab. In our first segment, Mr. Brand began by talking about the Global Space Network he was creating by utilizing outdated equipment such as 30 meter dishes that have been abandoned. He described his concept in detail, including costs and the likely customer base. Later in this segment, we took several calls from listeners such as the one by Roger that commented on the outstanding space education outreach projects undertaken by Mr. Brand so we moved along to the topic of kids and space education. Robert talked about 3D lunar photography from Apollo and some of his Middle School outreach projects. Later, Monroe called in to mention Team Prometheus and their satellite project as well as the N-Prize. You can learn more about Team Prometheus at www.teamprometheus.org. Kimberly emailed in requesting Robert share his vision for 21st century space awareness. Robert replied saying “making space everyday for everyday people.” Trent called from Australia to ask Robert what he thought were the greatest space needs for Australia. Robert talked about the need for disaster recovery information, data, facilities, etc. using real time space resources. In the second long segment, Robert directed us to his various websites listed at the start of this summary. We talked about Moon Bounce and Space-Quest, amateur radio , the UpLift project with balloon launches, and more. Robert went through the other programs on www.wotzup.com site including SugarShot, MissionTrax, Kidz-In-Space, and we talked about cubesat swarms and owning your own personal satellite. Later, he told us about his building a satellite tracker in his basement, he talked about holding workshops in his area to promote space education and personally owning a satellite, plus getting kids to take ownership of the technology, research, and data which inspires them with the projects, all of which is part of Do-It-Yourself-Space. Later, we talked about Australian space interests, the Australian space program, and space awareness in Australia. During the last few minutes of our two hour discussion, we talked space history, the Apollo program, the Parkes Radio Telescope, Honeysuckle Creek, the Challenger disaster, Robert’s leaving the industry and then his return to promote space education among kids. You can email Robert Brand at Robert.Brand@pluscomms.com

After you have listened, please post a comment on the following blog for The Space Show:

http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/robert-brand-tuesday-11-1-11/

UpLift Weather Balloon Series (Archives)

Balloon*** Recovered From Archives ***

Posted By On 22 Aug 2011.
My name is Robert Brand and I am involved in space missions and Balloon Flights to the upper atmosphere. I don’t just read the space news and I like doing things, so Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Space was a natural. Unfortunately high altitude weather balloons don’t get into space, but they do get a long way up. Many make it over 20 miles / 30 kms and the atmosphere is so thing that it is getting close to space. My son Jason (age 9) will also be a big part of tracking and recovering the craft

The UpLift series is a record of my personal weather balloon launches in Blog form. Here you will find everything that you ever wanted to know about high altitude balloon flights, but in more of a blog form – I simply do not have the time to make it a reference site. I will try and not miss anything important and I expect that for the Australian enthusiast, there will be enough detail to even know how to approach CASA (Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority) for a permit to fly. Some flights may occur outside of Australia, but if they are launches instigated by me, they will still carry the name.

The series will be numerically numbered so UpLift-1 is the first flight.

The flights will normally originate from a point in central New South Wales (NSW). They will use amateur radio tracking and where possible they will involve schools and other educational opportunities. They will carry as much scientific payload as possible and the data will be available on these pages. This will include full flight information, time, height, atmospheric pressure, etc as well as photos and videos.