Category Archives: Education

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – July.28.2019

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs:

** Princeton Univ. TigerSat to demonstrate miniaturized cylindrical Hall thruster for cubesats: Small but mighty: A mini plasma-powered satellite under construction may launch a new era in space exploration – Princeton

A tiny satellite under construction at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) could open new horizons in space exploration. Princeton University students are building the device, a cubic satellite or “CubeSat,” as a testbed for a miniaturized rocket thruster with unique capabilities being developed at PPPL.

The CubeSat’s thruster, whose development is led by PPPL physicist Yevgeny Raitses, holds the promise of increased flexibility for the tiny satellites, more than a thousand of which have been launched by universities, research centers and commercial interests around the world. The proposed propulsion device — powered by plasma — could raise and lower the orbits of CubeSats circling the Earth, a capability not broadly available to small spacecraft today, and would hold the potential for exploration of deep space.

“Essentially, we will be able to use these miniature thrusters for many missions,” Raitses said. 

Princeton Tigersat group
Princeton graduate and undergraduate students gather with advisors around model of the CubeSat chassis. From left: Jacob Simmonds, Jerry Xiang, Nirbhav Chopra, Daniel Marlow, Yevgeny Raitses, Seth Freeman, Matthew Bledsoe and Daniel Piatek (Seton Hall student).  Photo byElle Starkman, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

** Indian student group building CubeSat with hyperspectal imager for launch in 2021: BITS students fired up to realise their space dream – The Financial Express

With some help from experts from the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), the undergraduate students are inching closer to designing their one-of-its-kind nano-sat equipped with a special camera that will help study the earth’s surface for response during natural hazards and track carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Christened Team Anant, the group comprises of students from all engineering branches and batches at the Rajasthan-based institute. So far, the students have developed a prototype for their payload, built one of the antennas for their ground station and integrated it with their transceiver to track signals from the International Space Station.

“Our nano-satellite will be the first in India to use hyperspectral imager. Globally, only two other nano-satellites have used such an imager,” said Kaushley Mehra, a member of the publicity group of Team Anant. The `1 crore project is being funded by BITS, Pilani, while the Isro is expected to bear the `20 lakh cost of satellite launch once an MoU is signed as part of the Union government’s push to encourage research. “The cost of components and basic supplies is borne partly by the institute and by sponsors,” said Mehra, adding that their team is looking for as many sponsors as possible.

** College students to compete in MTT-Sat Challenge to develop new RF and microwave technologies for CubeSats: IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society Seeks Student CubeSat RF Hardware Proposals – ARRL.org

The IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) has announced the MTT-Sat Challenge for groups of students developing RF hardware for CubeSat applications. The MTT-Sat Challenge is a worldwide competition for teams of undergraduate and graduate students to design and build RF hardware for small satellites. The most promising designs will undergo space environmental qualification testing and could be incorporated into an actual CubeSat.

“The main goal of the MTT-Sat Challenge is to advance space RF and microwave education, inspire students to pursue science and engineering education and careers, and prepare tomorrow’s leaders with the interdisciplinary teamwork skills, which are necessary for success,” the society said in announcing the competition. The MTT-Sat Challenge is intended to run over 4 academic years (starting in June 2019) and is divided into several phases spanning overall technology readiness levels. Proposals may be submitted for every single phase.

** Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) to send tiny student-made “LunaSats” to the surface of the Moon: Students to send hundreds of leaf-sized spacecraft to the moon | CU Boulder Today | University of Colorado Boulder

… students from Colorado and across the world will continue that legacy of exploration via the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE), a space mission led by NASA’s New York and Colorado Space Grant Consortium. Inspired by the Apollo moon landings, the project will send 500 spacecraft small enough to fit in the palm of your hand to the moon by 2023.

These “LunaSats,” each of which will cost less than $200, will collect valuable data on conditions at the lunar surface. They’ll be designed and built by students, said Chris Koehler, director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, which is based at CU Boulder. 

“As we all celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, let us tell the world we are going to the moon with a new mission conducted by students from countries across the globe, and we will be there by 2023,” Koehler said.

** University students build Sudanese CubeSats: Inside Sudan’s National Space Programme – Space in Africa

Future University (formerly known as Computer Man College), which is the first specialised Information and communications technology university in Sudan, offers undergraduate and graduate programmes in space science and engineering, run by the Faculty of Telecommunications and Space Technology. The University hosts Sudan’s first Space Technology Centre, which was established in 2000. The Centre recently started a CubeSat project, following years of research and development in remote sensing and space physics.

The University of Khartoum(UofK) runs what is arguably Sudan’s most advanced satellite programme. The University’s satellite programme began in October 2010 with a CubeSat project at the Electrical and Electronics Department. In 2014, the University established a specialised Space Research Centre to coordinate all space-related activities across various departments of the University. So far, the University has designed and fabricated two CubeSat prototypes – KN-Sat1 and UOKSat-2 – and has successfully installed an operational ground station to track satellites and analyse geospatial data.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-209 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • CAS-7B Launched and Operational
  • Upcoming ARISS SSTV Events
  • AMSAT-Chile developing CESAR-1 FM / digital satellites
  • FO-99 Transponder Activated over North America, Other Activations Scheduled
  • LO-94 Lunar Impact Expected on July 31st
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for July 26, 2019
  • How to Support AMSAT
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

See also AMSAT President Asks Members to Help Keep Amateur Radio in Space – ARRL.org.

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

  • Projects:
    • LibertyQube-1 – PocketQube developed by Libertylife LLC of Japan.

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I Was a Teenage Space Reporter:
From Apollo 11 to Our Future in Space

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – July.16.2019

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs:

** University built RFTSat to test space-based solar power microwave transmission system: Launch of RFTSat this Sunday! – The Propagation Group/Georgia Tech

This Sunday, a Falcon 9 rocket will launch a SpaceX Dragon capsule that will rendezvous with the International Space Station.  Part of this mission will include RFTSat, developed by a team of Northwest Nazarene University (Boise, Idaho) led by Prof. Joshua Griffin and a team of Georgia Tech Researchers in ECE.  

This CubeSat experiment will have a unique RF energy-harvesting radio designed and built by the Georgia Tech Propagation Group. PhD student researcher Cheng Qi has built a one-of-a-kind microwave backscatter reader and tag-sensor combo that will drive the mission science package.

The low-powered reader designed by our team deploys a sensor that unfurls a distance away from the spacecraft. The reader then energizes and receives backscatter information from the device using a 5.8 GHz transmission. The launch info can be tracked here.  Interesting articles on the launch can be found here and here.

The project was funded by NASA, but could not have been completed without private matching funds from the Space Solar Power Institute.  Complete with generator, retrodirective antenna, and rectenna harvester, the radio package qualifies as the first microwave space-based solar power satellite ever tested — despite the somewhat limited 1m range.  You have to start somewhere!

RFTsat
RFTSat (Radio Frequency Tag Satellite) CubeSat built by teams at Northwest Nazarene University and Georgia Tech. It will demonstrate RF energy harvesting and backscatter communication.

* AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-195 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • 2019 AMSAT Board of Directors Election Ballots Sent
  • New Orbitrack iOS app free for Apollo 11 Anniversary
  • Help Needed – JAISAT-1 Telemetry
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for July 11, 2019
  • How to Support AMSAT
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V 21309
Outer Space Model Rocket for Kids and Adults, Science Building Kit
(1900 pieces)

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – July.9.2019

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs:

** Binar CubeSat built by Curtin University team of students and staff to be deployed from the ISS: Curtin to test ‘mini’ satellite in orbit with European Space Agency –  Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia

Professor Bland, from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said a Curtin team of 12 staff and student engineers developed the miniaturised satellite.

“The Curtin team has managed to put all the systems required to operate the satellite, including the power, computer, steering and communications, on a single eight-layer printed circuit board, which at 10cm by 10cm by 2.5cm is about the size of a rather small sandwich,” Professor Bland said.

“Having everything on a single circuit board means there is more room for what the satellite is carrying, which in this case will be a camera that will capture beautiful images of Australia taken from orbit.”

Binar Cubesat Program
A diagram of the CubeSat in development in the Binar Cubesat Program at Curing University.

** Three Virginia CubeSat Constellation CubeSats built by undergrads were deployed from the ISS on July 3rd:

Three Virginia university satellites were deployed into nearly simultaneous orbit from the International Space Station via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer at 10:50 a.m. EDT this morning. The Virginia CubeSat Constellation mission is a collaborative project of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and four of its member universities: Old Dominion University (ODU), Virginia Tech (VT), University of Virginia (UVA), and Hampton University (HU). The three nano-satellites, each about 4 inches cubed and weighing approximately 3 pounds, have been developed and instrumented (one each at ODU, VT and UVA) to obtain measurements of atmospheric properties and quantify atmospheric density with respect to orbital decay.

Deployment of three Virginia CubeSat Constellation satellites from the ISS. Photo credits: Virginia Space Grant Consortium

Data collected will ultimately contribute to the scientific knowledge base around orbital decay and will be widely shared. Ground stations at UVA, ODU and Virginia Tech will now begin making contact with their satellites. Data analysis will take place using an analytical tool being developed by students from Hampton University’s Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Department.

“To know that all three satellites are now in orbit is extremely gratifying. Kudos to the students who have worked hard and gained immeasurable knowledge and experience from participating in this student-led mission and to the faculty who have advised them,” said Mary Sandy, Virginia Space Grant director and mission principal investigator. “Achieving Earth orbit is a huge mission milestone. These are the first student-developed satellites in orbit for all three of the universities.”

More than 150 undergraduate students across many disciplines at the participating universities have worked on the mission for the past three years under the guidance of faculty advisors

** KRAKsat Polish student CubeSat also deployed from ISS: ISS On-Orbit Status Report – July.3.2019

KRAKsat is a project focused on sending scientific satellite into space, made by students of University of Science and Technology and Jagiellonian University. Not only it is one of the first Cubesat type satellites in Poland but also the first satellite in the world which uses magnetic liquid, called ferrofluid, for orientation control.

A CubeSat from the Polish company SatRevolution was also deployed from the ISS along with KRAKsat. Find updates on the two projects at

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-188 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • 2019 AMSAT Board of Directors Election Update
  • Candidates for the AMSAT Board of Directors Announced
  • Frank Karnauskas, N1UW Appointed as AMSAT VP for Development
  • First Ever Contact via Moon Orbiting Transponder on LO-94
  • First Call for Papers for the 50th Anniversary AMSAT Symposium
  • Take W3ZM on the Road!
  • ARISS-International Delegates Meet in Montreal
  • JAISAT-1 telemetry beacon downlink on 435.325 MHz FM 4k8 GMSK
  • Additional Amateur Radio Payloads to Launch with JAISAT-1
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for July
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Shoot for the Moon:
The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11

Night sky highlights for July 2019

** NASA JPL posts What’s Up Video: July 2019 | NASA

As NASA marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, here are five things to know about the Moon that you can share with others: How far away is the Moon? How big is the Moon? What color is the Moon? Why do we always see the same side of the Moon? And what are the dark areas on the Moon?

** The Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute posts “Tonight’s Sky: July 2019”:

In July, find the Scorpius constellation to identify the reddish supergiant Antares, which will lead you to discover a trio of globular star clusters. Keep watching for space-based views of these densely packed, spherical collections of ancient stars, as well as three nebulas: the Swan Nebula, the Lagoon Nebula, and the Trifid Nebula.

** Alyn Wallace posts his program on the July 2019 night sky:

** A preview of the month’s night sky plus a schedule for some space related events: Skywatch: What’s happening in the heavens in July – The Washington Post

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LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V 21309
Outer Space Model Rocket for Kids and Adults, Science Building Kit
(1900 pieces)

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – June.30.2019

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs:

** Florida high school student satellite, StangSat, reaches orbit via the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch last week. Students at Merritt Island High School (MIHS) designed and built the CubeSat. A local TV news report: High-schoolers sent cube satellite into space aboard Falcon Heavy – WOFL

More at

MIHS students working on StangSat
“Merritt Island High School students are photographed at the Kennedy Space Center with StangSat – a cube satellite (CubeSat) that was built and developed by students at the school. StangSat [launched] on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as part of the Department of Defense Space Test Program-2 mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center… Credits: NASA/Shaun Daly”
** Georgia Tech’s Prox-1 with LightSail-2 was successfully put into orbit by the Falcon Heavy as well. Prox-1 was built by Georgia Tech students with funding from the University Nanosat Program (UNP) and LightSail-2 was built by a team led by Ecliptic Enterprises and funded by the Planetary Society.

The sail’s cubesat will be ejected from Prox-1 this week:

LightSail 2 team members will soon converge at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California, where the spacecraft’s mission control is located. Once LightSail 2 is released from Prox-1 on 2 July, the team will spend several days checking out the CubeSat’s systems before commanding its dual-sided solar panels to deploy. Following that, the spacecraft’s solar sails will be deployed, roughly 2 weeks in total from launch day.

** Students at Cal State Poly at San Luis Obispo were involved closely with LightSail-2 and with LEO (Launch Environment Observer) cubesat also on board the FH:

The LightSail-2 mission will rely on the ground station at CalPoly SLO.

** Students at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi are building MYSAT-2, with the support of Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), for launch on a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft in 2020:  Khalifa University’s MYSAT-2 CUbeSat completes critical design review milestone – ZAWYA

Designed and built by a team of nine students pursuing a Master’s degree with Space Systems and Technology Concentration, MYSAT-2 features significant upgrades from MYSAT-1. Its primary mission is to enable students to design, implement, and test new Attitude Determination and Control (ADC) Algorithms, developed by the Khalifa University students. The algorithms help determine a CubeSat’s orientation in space, and are estimated to be 15 to 20 percent more power-efficient, in comparison with similar algorithms implemented on other spacecrafts. If successful, the new algorithms will establish the UAE as a contributor to the global space industry.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-181 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AO-85 Update: Do Not Access While in Eclipse
  • Candidates for the AMSAT Board of Directors Announced
  • PSAT Successfully Launched on Falcon Heavy STP-2
  • Update: PSAT2 is coming to Northern Latitudes!
  • Updated TLE’s and Analysis Tools for BIRDS-3
  • Chinese Lunar Satellite DSLWP-B and the July 2 Solar Eclipse
  • Thailand JAISAT-1 Satellite to Launch on July 5, 2019
  • ARISS International Delegates Meet in Montreal
  • European Astro Pi Challenge Winners Announced
  • New Release of G0KLA Tracker
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

See also Amateur radio satellites launch on SpaceX STP-2 mission | AMSAT-UK

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Moon Rush: The New Space Race