Category Archives: Amateur/Student Satellite

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Aug.5.2019

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

** Univ. of North Carolina team building CubeSat for exoplanet studies: From Campus to Space: UNC Professor Building His Own Satellite – Chapelboro.com

Mann says student help is very valuable when it comes to design and creation. Senior Patrick Gorman is working on the research through the summer, currently designing the chassis and antenna for the CubeSat. He’s the president of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space organization on campus and the project appealed to him because of the variety of work he can do.

Mann says one of the reasons he’s happy the university guided him to making the satellite is the learning opportunity it provides to students like Gorman.

“Think how much more beneficial this is to a student who helped build something and gets to see it launch rather than get to see something else launch that someone else built. It’s much more satisfying for people involved, which I think is better for the education aspect of the program here.”

Mann says the prototype of the satellite should be complete in the next year, with the first launch of their CubeSat expected in two years.

** Colorado State TEMPEST-D demonstrates high-quality storm imaging capabilities with a low cost CubeSat: Small, nimble CSU satellite has surpassed a year in space –  SOURCE/Colorado State University

After meeting all its benchmarks for demonstrating small-satellite weather forecasting capabilities during its first 90 days, a Colorado State University experimental satellite is operating after more than one year in low-Earth orbit.

TEMPEST-D (Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems – Demonstration), a type of small satellite called a 6U CubeSat, is still providing precise images of global weather – exceeding the expectations of even its engineers.

TEMPEST-D is about the size of an Oxford dictionary and was deployed from the International Space Station last July carrying a miniaturized microwave radiometer. Measuring at five frequencies, TEMPEST-D can see through clouds to reveal the interior of storms where raindrops and ice crystals form.

The project is led by principal investigator Steven Reising, professor of electrical and computer engineering, whose team developed the satellite supported by an $8.2 million grant from NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office.

TEMPEST-D CubeSat
An artist’s rendering of the TEMPEST-D CubeSat in orbit. Image credit: Blue Canyon Technologies, CSU

See also TEMPEST-D – NASA JPL and

** Cal Poly profs awarded grants in support of CubeSat programs: Cal Poly Engineering Professors Plan to Expand CubeSat, Programming Education with Lockheed Endowments – Cal Poly News/Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Pauline Faure, assistant professor in the Aerospace Engineering Department, and Maria Pantoja, assistant professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department, each received a $25,000 award. The awards recognize faculty members who contribute new knowledge in the field of engineering; partner with industry; involve students with advanced ideas; and enhance teaching by introducing state-of-the-art topics in the classroom.

The awards provide time and resources for professional growth and development to enrich the educational experiences of Cal Poly students. In addition to their mini satellite work, the faculty members also plan to expand the use of parallel computing to study earthquakes, Hawaiian bird calls and wine production.

Faure said her main goal is to facilitate access to space to more people through STEM education, using mini-satellites called CubeSats as a tool.

“This is important because space is supposed to be available to all nations regardless of the hardships they might be facing,” she said. “Yet, space has a reputation of being inaccessible, complex and expensive.”

CubeSats, co-created by retired Cal Poly faculty member Jordi Puig-Suari, have allowed students and private citizens worldwide to become more involved in space research. Several CubeSats developed at Cal Poly have been launched into space.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-216 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • CAS-7B Designated BIT Progress-OSCAR 102 (BO-102)
  • AMSAT and ARISS Designing Amateur Radio System for Lunar Gateway
  • ARISS SSTV Owen Garriott Event Underway
  • AMSAT Member Named Young Ham of the Year
  • AMSAT member Wins Alabama Outstanding Youth Ham Award
  • ARISS Next Gen System Completes Critical Flight Certification Tests
  • Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for July 2019
  • LightSail 2 Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for August 1, 2019
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

See also

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks:
A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic (Springer Praxis Books)

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.22.2019

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

** East Tennessee middle school students build cubesat for launch from the ISS:

Students are in the final stages of progression from using 3-D printed plastic prototypes to working with space-age materials. The Robertsville Rams’ so-called Ramsat will help study regrowth of forests in the Smokies from space.

The student group, mentored by professionals at nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, are awaiting word from NASA on which launch would send up their cubesat as secondary payload to the International Space Station.

** Students at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology working on CubeSat formation flying: Space exploration research ongoing at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology – KNBN NewsCenter1

At SDSM&T, a small group of engineering students are working to take the cubesat to a new level through NASA’s cubesate launch initiative.

“We need to be able to use a camera to figure out where a cubesat is relative to another cubesat,” said Skye Rutan-Bedard, undergraduate researcher.

The goal is to communicate between multiple cubesats, getting them close together in space.

“By introducing better technology for getting these cubesats to localize, when they’re close to each other they can produce densely packed constellations and also means we can experiment with docking and getting individual cubesats to dock in orbit,” said Rutan-Bedard.

** Arizona and Puerto Rico students to build CubeSats to carry out asteroid surface simulation experiments: $3M in NASA Funding to Help Students Build CubeSats | UANews

University of Arizona researchers will use $3 million in NASA funding over three years to research the low-gravity surface environments of asteroids, and to provide students from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to design, build and operate CubeSats, or miniature satellites at the UA.

The project was selected through NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project Institutional Research Opportunity, or MIRO, program. The UA, which was designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2018, is one of eight institutions to receive a share of more than $8.2 million in cooperative agreements awarded through the MIRO program.

“This project will help us understand asteroid surface geophysics in a way that no one has done before,” said Erik Asphaug, deputy principal investigator for the project and a professor in the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. “And the students get to participate in a low-cost endeavor that has huge implications for how we work with asteroids in near-Earth space.”

** Univ. Central Florida Q-PACE CubeSat to study how small dust particles grew into planets:

In the very early stages of planet formation, dust grains trapped in a disk around the young star gently collide with each other, sticking and growing into bigger aggregates. Similarly, particles in planetary rings collide at very low relative velocities and form aggregates leading to many an observed features of Saturn’s rings for example. To better understand these low-velocity collisions and the growth of aggregates, microgravity experiments observing multi-particles systems are required. In particular, collision data for µm to cm-sized particles will help closing the current gap in knowledge of how dust grows into km-sized bodies, as well as better our understanding of particle dynamics in planetary rings.

Q-PACE (CubeSat Particle Aggregation and Collision Experiment) will observe a set of 0.1 mm to cm-sized particles colliding and growing under microgravity conditions. This 3U CubeSat will allow that inherits its format from the NanoRocks experiment currently on the International Space Station will allow for the observation of particle dynamical evolution and growth for an unprecedented duration in time of several years. 

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-202 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT is proud to announce the relaunch of its AMSAT Ambassador Program
  • Watch for ISS, SSTV Activity
  • Nihon University Announces FO-99 US Operation Plan
  • FO-29 update from JARL
  • 2019 Mid-Year Fundraising Letter
  • 2019 37th AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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The Case for Space:
How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up
a Future of Limitless Possibility

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