Galina Mihaylova & Anton Ivanov
First official satellite connection in the history of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria

First official satellite connection in the history of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria

In a walnut orchard 20 years ago

Location: walnut garden near village Botevo, Tundzha municipality, Yambol region.

Time: exactly 20 years ago.


Me: I am a rookie officer… Lieutenant.

Sun fights solid walnut leaves. Birds greet the approaching summer with her ​​songs. Air-fresh. Lunch time, but I do not feel hunger.

I sit on the podium of the space station. Equipment buzzing quietly behind me. A little sad. My classmates today found the monument “Mother Bulgaria” in Veliko Tarnovo to mark 5th anniversary of the completion of the II High Model School “Vasil Drumev”… where they will continue tonight? We have been very cohesive and all together, and now I’m gone…

Whether they understand me? Still no coincidence I’ve gone with them…

At that time, nor can it boast or even explain why I’m not at the meeting. As a colleague said, just “while service so requires, and it is not contrary to the statute documents.”

Sad but happy. I just have found the first ever official Army Space liaison. The exact term is “Satellite”, but who knows why “Space” has grown in popularity. Our correspondent was the station of Navy, Chief of Emil Popov and his deputy Pavel Pavlov (LZ4PV).

My crew is also somewhat preoccupied. They were petty officer Vasil Yordanov Vasilev (now in the reserve) , petty officer Valentin Stanchev Tsanov (also ), private Emil Stoyanov Spassov, private Tony Dentchev Iliev and private Stefan Iliev Stefanov. Just a few months the crew had become a well-oiled machine, “platoon of honors.” Really excellent fighters and men, and that we’re friends and we can rely on each other.

I was warned that approaching the brigade commander, with him and my other superiors. Prepared to meet them .

The Order

Came to greet us. Chief of Staff of the brigade order read: “…at 11.50 hours on May 24, 1987 the crew of the space station P-440 stock … revealed for the first time in the history of the Armed Forces…”

Order about the first satellite connection in BA
Order about the first satellite connection in BA

Not listening to the text. Not even heard what the prizes. It was important to me that everything had been leaked as we are able. I’m proud of my crew. It was a common merit.

Credit was not only of my crew. Felt gratitude to the then Chief of Staff of the battalion, Captain Nikola Lazarov (now Colonel of the reserve), the head of the radio department Colonel Yanko Nikov (also in reserve) and his assistant on the radio and aerospace liaison colonel Dimitar Asenov Dimitrov (in reserve), the head of management then general Kirov (also). Credit was as correspondents and our navy, and people through which the channels were encrypted and prepere to use – sergeant Valentin Alexandrov, lieutenant Tihomir Todorov, current Head of CIS in HQ – brigadier general Boyko Simitchiev. I’m afraid not to miss anyone, and will not recite all…

These were no longer of “analog” officers and sergeants . These were the few soldiers then, deployment and use digital communications, people with an eye for new technologies.

It was difficult implementation of innovations in the army at this time

With your current experience (now colonel, though a teenager at heart), I appreciate what their bones and my superiors to succeed and to ensure my success. The army was then the most “rigid” structure was almost absurd to break a novelty. So it was quite a few years and my service. Perhaps only recently began to change the status quo, but very slow and difficult. Hopefully someday it will change…

I will never forget the words of one of my head when I “did mouth” to go on a course for aerospace connector – however I was the first to touch the live to such equipment and I do not understand it: “Well , Lieutenant , where you’re going? Such a course in the USSR already walked at least twenty people! Grabs her books and teaches you the station have documentation…” (this station was the production of the USSR). Luckily there were chiefs who know that without education there is no implementation and managed to organize a course here in Bulgaria with its own forces. And documentation was detailed enough.

Anton Ivanov (LZ3AI) and Vasil Vasilev (LZ3WW) during a training exercise in Germany
Anton Ivanov (LZ3AI) and Vasil Vasilev (LZ3WW) during a training exercise in Germany

To make clear what level I left, I’ll tell you how I knew of what position I appointed. For the unit were distributed dozen officers. Were gathered at the entrance to the MoD Aksakov. HRM came and said to be shifting slightly away… it’s been a lot of people around us do not interfere and they do not bother us. Then we went to the famous shop “Crystal”. Notify who where appointed. Came to me. HRM read that I’m head of the “Crystal”. I looked at him, looked at the sign of “Crystal” and again and again sign him… he felt something was wrong and said, “Not this … Head of R-440″… only then I realized what this speech… R-440 at least I had heard at the Military University. “Crystal” was its terms name .

Now there are published data on this station for space connection on the Internet already.

The course was in Plovdiv. Learned to be more or less, together with their teachers. Near Plovdiv were first informally space connections made ​​during the course. We were allowed to use a satellite conditional number “43” for which he joked that “Model from 43 year” because it goes down very low to the horizon, but then managed to maintain the bond, even in the regime below the noise level.

Difficult implementation innovations in the army then. And now it is not so much easier .

I will never forget the words of another great our military commander when he demonstrated in the Reception Center MO how to transmit and receive documents to our troops in Cambodia using packet radio communication: “Well done, guys… but let’s first radio to accept the reports of the hearing, then do you keep doing experiments…” which actually undermine our further work… although radio reception for more than a half-hour report, passing through the packet modem for three minutes. Correspondent in Cambodia, I was the same sergeant Vasil Yordanov Vasilev by the crew of the space station. With his help we were able to build and “system” (from the waste product) with the help of which our soldiers in Cambodia could talk with their families free of charge (for an alternative $ 6 per minute in U.S. satellite).

Communications satellite
Communications satellite

The station was new, but new things and sometimes fail. Even repairs and again on its own in the beginning – were less people who know about these “spiders” as we called integrated circuits, which were filled units and equipment.

“Expensive pleasure” is a satellite connection. But quality and with many advantages.

With space station hardware and Sustainable encryption in well-prepared crew can arrange liaison to the final correspondents in less than a minute. Quality is measured by number of errors of six months of continuous operation. Can be organized communication in the noise level in the air – practically invisible from equipment and intelligence opponents. You can make a phone call over the communication channel 600 bps, when this fellow managed classified with guaranteed stability. Computer continuously monitor the location of the elliptical orbit satellites and the antenna moved to them. Even today, not every station satellite connection has similar facilities .

I learned important things

I learned that the most valuable thing is the people. And the most expensive technique with shoddy crew nothing happens. As with obsolete equipment, but “quality” and well prepared people can still achieve a lot.

I learned that the best investment is also in people, in their knowledge and skills. And it pays off many times. Technologies grow old days and people are improved and they know more than yesterday. If they are motivated, they can do much more of their own capabilities. But if you can not motivate them… lost “the battle ” before it even started. Everyone is unique “universe” and managed on your own and at the same time must be very careful… If you manage it, this man respects you completely.

I learned that you can punch with his own authority, without “connections/relatives”. If you care about your reputation, subordinates can “throw in the fire” for you.

There is something to be proud that we are Bulgarians!

Successes should be respected and celebrated. They are a fact and it is not necessary to invent them, as do the majority of foreign countries. When it comes to national pride, modesty is unnecessary. Now the majority of officers of NATO know what you know and know how. We have gained their respect and trust. Know that we can count as equal partners and friends. Know that we can also learn many things.

There is something to be proud that we are Bulgarians! Let’s not miss the opportunity to do it! The coincidence of this date – May 24 – a coincidence, but symbolically … enlightenment to the world of communication and information systems.

Anton Ivanov as Colonel-Engineer
Anton Ivanov as Colonel-Engineer


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