The question "can I hear the space shuttle on HF?" is often asked.
The answer  is no, not directly. However, what we can hear are some
of the interesting behind the scenes traffic working Cape Radio in
support of these launches.


Cape Radio is at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The facility is
run by a private contractor who operates and maintains all the HF radio's
for the Eastern Test Range (ETR), which is the official designation for the
facility at Cape Canaveral AFS. The facility is actually located across
the Banana River from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and is not
affiliated with NASA in any way. However ETR, better known as Cape
Radio, does support all shuttle launches and unmanned launch vehicles.

What is heard?

There are two nets on HF for every shuttle launch. The first is Safety
of Range. This net is usually controlled by "DoD Cape" on a circuit set
up by Cape Radio. There is usually a U.S. Navy ship tasked to "launch
danger area support" on this net. Sometimes a U.S. Coast Guard cutter
is also deployed to assist. The job of these ship's is to ensure that no
planes or ship's are in the area where if a rocket would have to be
destroyed, debris may fall. They generally ID by the ships name, such
as "USS Moosbruger" (DD-980).

Also on this net are KING 1, 2 and 3, the U.S. Air Force Air Rescue
HC-130's, as well as some other assets. The second net which is
active every launch is controlled by "BRD" or the Booster Recovery
Director. The two Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB's) carried aloft by the
shuttle are  jettisoned at two minutes, seven seconds into the flight.
They are retrieved from the Atlantic Ocean by special recovery vessels
and returned for refurbishment and eventual reuse on future Shuttle
flights. The BRD net coordinates the two SRB recovery ships; M/V
Liberty Star (callsign WRPH) and M/V Freedom Star (callsign KRFB).

What frequencies are used?

These two nets can make use of any of the hundred or so HF
frequencies available to the Eastern Test Range. However, early
listening to ETR primary frequency 10780.0 kHz. as early as 16 to 24
hours before scheduled launch time, will reward the listener with
Cape Radio giving the working frequencies for both nets as the assets
check in. If you miss this, then its a hit and miss affair.

Other shortwave listening

One last way to catch shuttle action is to monitor comms via the
Goddard Amateur Radio Club in Greenbelt, Maryland. "WA3NAN" retransmits the
air-to-ground Space Shuttle communications for all
non-classified shuttle missions on: 3860 kHz. (LSB); 7185 kHz. (LSB); 14295
kHz. (USB); 21395 kHz. (USB); and 28650 kHz. (USB) plus or
minus 5 kHz. for interference.

Also, check this url for scheduled missions:

HF Frequencies
Frequencies used for past Shuttle launches

 Freq     Mission   Use                     UTC      Remarks
 2622.0   STS-63    Booster Recovery        0521
 2622.0   STS-76    Booster Recovery        0523
 2764.0   STS-63    Range Safety            0401
 2764.0   STS-67    Range Safety            0225
 2764.0   STS-68    Booster Recovery        0755
 2836.0   STS-68    Range Safety            0653
 3041.0   STS-76    Range Safety            0739
 3120.0   STS-56    Range Safety            0426
 3120.0   STS-68    Range Safety            0508
 3187.0   STS-55    Booster Recovery        0440
 3187.0   STS-56    Booster Recovery        0325
 3187.0   STS-64    Range Safety            1108
 3187.0   STS-68    Booster Recovery        0746
 3187.0   STS-69    Range Safety            1108
 3365.0   STS-59    Range Safety            0734
 3859.0   STS-54    WA3NAN                  1329
 3859.2   STS-69    WA3NAN                  1346
 3860.0   STS-78    WA3NAN                  1449
 3860.2   STS-51    WA3NAN                  1142
 3860.2   STS-57    WA3NAN                  1245
 3860.3   STS-56    WA3NAN                  0509
 3860.3   STS-63    WA3NAN                  0522
 3860.5   STS-68    WA3NAN                  1054
 3860.5   STS-70    WA3NAN                  1342
 3860.5   STS-76    WA3NAN                  0813
 3861.4   STS-74    WA3NAN                  1256
 4520.0   STS-68    Range Safety            0653
 4704.0   STS-68    Range Safety            0949
 4992.0   STS-76    Range Safety            0705
 5011.0   STS-67    Range Safety            0006
 5180.0   STS-56    Range Safety            0310
 5180.0   STS-56    Booster Recovery        2339     Attempt #2
 5180.0   STS-59    Range Safety            0731
 5180.0   STS-61    Range Safety            0459
 5180.0   STS-87    Range Safety            1814
 5180.0   STS-95    Range Safety            1900
 5190.0   STS-68    Booster Recovery        1037
 5190.0   STS-69    Booster Recovery        2310
 5246.0   STS-86    Range Safety            1951
 5246.0   STS-95    Booster Recovery        1926
 5711.0   STS-69    Range Safety            1516     Attempt #2
 5711.0   STS-70    Range Safety            1323
 5711.0   STS-71    Range Safety            2003
 5711.0   STS-76    Booster Recovery        2335
 5711.0   STS-77    Launch Failure Exercise 1159
 5810.0   STS-51    Range Safety            2034
 6897.0   STS-54    Range Safety            1338
 6937.0   STS-75    Range Safety            1818
 6937.0   STS-82    Range Safety            0730
 6937.0   STS-84    Range Safety            1543
 7184.2   STS-54    WA3NAN                  1329
 7184.8   STS-55    WA3NAN                  1450
 7185.0   STS-58    WA3NAN                  1439
 7185.7   STS-85    WA3NAN                  1441
 7765.0   STS-77    Range Safety            1038
 7765.0   STS-78    Range Safety            1436
 7765.0   STS-80    Range Safety            1956
 9023.0   STS-74    Range Safety            1303
 9043.0   STS-54    Range Safety            1335
 9043.0   Delta II Launch 11/98             2200
10780.0   STS-51    Coordination            1953
10780.0   STS-58    Coordination            1443     Cape ID'ed as FISHER
10780.0   STS-59    Coordination            1831
10780.0   STS-61    Coordination            1913
10780.0   STS-69    Coordination            1845
10780.0   STS-75    Coordination            1815
10780.0   STS-76    Coordination            2122
10780.0   STS-77    Coordination            1637
10780.0   STS-80    Coordination            1735     Cape ID'ed as FISHER
10780.0   STS-81    Coordination            0123
10780.0   STS-83    Coordination            0248
10780.0   STS-84    Coordination            1435
10780.0   STS-85    Coordination            0119
10780.0   STS-86    Coordination            1948
10780.0   STS-95    Coordination            1800
11217.0   STS-72    Range Safety            0930
14295.0   STS-79    WA3NAN                  1615
20185.7   STS-61    WA3NAN                  1610

Copyright 1998 R.D. Baker/Popular Communications magazine.
Based on original article in the Communications Confidential column
"Monitoring Space Shuttle Launches" (June, 1998) parts of which
are reprinted with permission here.

Additional mission logs or other information always appreciated.
Please forward to Rick Baker at

This file may be freely distributed so long as the file remains intact
and is not edited in any way. File originally posted on Worldwide UTE
November 1998.