2014 Sep 18
Thursday, Day 261
Monthly Space Chronicle
History, radio tracking
"Zarya" (Sunrise) was the radio call sign adopted by Sergei Korolyov for the Baikonur-based mission control when Yuri Gagarin went into orbit. The name has persisted, and endured as part of space history.
For many years, Zarya remained located at the Baikonur cosmodrome. In 1973, for the Soyuz 12 mission, Flight Control Centre - Центр Управления Полётами (often referred to as TsUP, the anglicised version of its acronym) was moved to Kaliningrad, a city-sized suburb of Moscow. Many satellites are tracked and controlled from there. Following break-up of the Soviet Union, Kaliningrad, which is also home to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre - Центр Подготовки Космонавтов имени Ю. А. Гагарина and other space-related industrial centres, was renamed Korolyov.
Zarya was also the name actually painted on the side of the first space station to reach orbit, even though the station's name was changed to Salyut shortly before launch. The name Zarya now adorns the first element of the International Space Station (ISS), that was launched into orbit by Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome 1998 November 20.
The secondary school that I attended in the 1960s was Kettering Grammar School in the County of Northamptonshire, England. There I met the Senior Science Master, Geoffrey Perry. Geoff introduced me to the science of radio-based satellite tracking, with particular emphasis on the Doppler shift, and how to make and record observations. The real excitement was that we were monitoring launches from the secretive Soviet Union.
From this, you will realise what still drives me today. It is the thrill of the unknown and the detective work needed to turn what used to be a few bleeps, but now more likely to be a spectrogram or a data file, into a new fact about someone or other's satellite.
A talk/lecture on the history of the Kettering group can be provided to interested organisations. For schools, astronomical societies, and local clubs, the only cost will be transport to/from Scarborough, usually the cost of running a car. For more formal groups, a fee may be involved but we can discuss it. Distance is no particular bar because public transport is available.
Use the 'Mail' button near the top of the page for further information or to discuss anything
Following their interception of signals from the Soviet Union's first Korabl Sputnik in 1960, the tracking team at the school grew into a group of teachers and pupils who dedicated their spare time to decoding satellite signals and analysing orbits in an attempt to understand the Soviet Space Program. By the time history had run its course, the group consisted of dozens of space experts dotted around the globe.
Copyright © Robert Christy, all rights reserved
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