Category Archives: Amateur/Student Satellite

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – April.21.2019

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

** 60 ThinSats built by middle and high school students reached space aboard Northrop-Grumman Cygnus cargo vessel launch on Antares rocket to the ISS: 60 ThinSat Constellation focused on STEM, Launched successfully April 17th

Mission Success yesterday for Indiana’s NearSpace Launch Inc. (NSL) ThinSat constellations launched off the Antares NG-11 on route to International Space Station. The 60 ThinSat were developed for Virginia Space as a STEM program for middle and high schools. Over 400 students participated in the testing and delivering of experiments in orbit today. The school teams were overseen by Twiggs Space Labs.

Co-founder of Twiggs Space Labs and Co-Inventor of the CubeSat, Bob Twiggs, states, “Our goal is to inspire future generations of engineers and scientists through innovation in the field of space.” Twiggs goes further to say, “To me, this (ThinSat launch) is the most exciting day of my career.” 

ThinSat is a new pioneering model for satellites that are scalable, simpler, and more affordable. Their focus is to broaden access to space for educational and space research participants.

The ThinSat comes in an array of sizes that comply with the CubeSat launcher. The 11.2 cm by 11.7 cm by 2 cm ThinSat version was the first model to launch this week. The ThinSat team choose to use EyeStar radios and Alta Devices solar technology. The NSL’s EyeStar radios allow for 24/7 connectivity via Globalstar’s constellation. Alta Devices solar cells provide a unique modular, lightweight, flexible form factor with high efficiency characteristics.

The ThinSat inventor and co-founder of NSL, Hank Voss states, “ThinSats will travel in a region of the atmosphere that is important to climate and space weather forecasts, but rarely studied because atmospheric drag makes it hard to keep satellites there,” Voss also expressed, as an emeritus professor, he is “thankful to Virginia Space and Twiggs Space Labsfor investing into the project that has a such strong STEM and research outreach.”

The ThinSat components were developed by NearSpace Launch Inc. (NSL) of Upland, IN.

Scalable models of ThinSats from 3U to 27U in size.

See also:

** 3 CubeSats of BIRDS-3 program reach ISS after launch on Northrop-Grumman Cygnus cargo vehicle. BIRDS-3 is

led by Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan and involves students from Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Japan.

The goal is for the participating countries to create indigenous space programs “by designing, building, testing, launching and operating, [their] first satellite(s)”.

The 3 satellites – Uguisu, NepaliSat-1, and Raavana-1 (Sri Lanka) – are expected to be deployed from the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) “Kibo” in May or June.

** Other student CubeSats launched to the ISS aboard the Cygnus included the three Virginia university projects described here in previous roundups plus several other college spacecraft:

More about BIRDS-3:

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-111 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Reminder: May 14 Deadline to Order Tickets for TAPR/AMSAT Banquet
  • First Ham in Space, AMSAT Life Member, Owen Garriott, W5LFL, SK
  • AMSAT VP for Human Spaceflight Programs Explains Operations Onboard the ISS
  • Seats Still Available for AMSAT Academy
  • Amateur Radio Cubesats Aboard Cygnus Launch: BIRDS-3, Swiatowid, KrakSat, EntrySat
  • Australian CubeSat to use 76 GHz
  • 2M0SQL Releases Pass Recorder Version 1.5
  • FUNcube Data Warehouse URL Change
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • AMSAT-India’s ISS Demonstration and Outreach Success
  • NASA Hosts University Students to Discuss Future of Space Exploration
  • SpaceDaily.com Reports Virgin Orbital Adds Guam to Launch Sites
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past

SpaceIL diagnosing landing failure and planning for next lunar mission

The attempt by SpaceIL, a private non-profit organization, to land the Beresheet craft softly on the Moon last week went awry just a few minutes before it was to set down onto the surface. Initial results of an investigation into what went wrong were released today:

See also:

** Final image taken by Beresheet released:

** Planning for a second Beresheet mission is now underway:

More at

** SpaceIL member participated in an Ask Me Anything session on reddit this week: Hi, my name is Ben Nathaniel, I work on the team of Beresheet, the spacecraft that Israel sent to the Moon on April 11 (as you may know the landing didn’t go so well). Ask Me Anything. – space/reddit.com.

** A vast knowledge database on Beresheet may have survived the crash: There may be a copy of Wikipedia somewhere on the moon. Here’s how to help find it – Mashable.com

The Arch Lunar Library contains 100GB, or 30 million pages of text and pictures, literally embedded in 25 nickel disks in the tiniest type you can possibly imagine. You don’t need anything more specialized than a microscope to read it, and the etchings should survive for billions of years. 

This library was supposed to be delivered to the surface of the moon — specifically, the Sea of Serenity — by Israel’s Beresheet Mission last week. The bad news: After a glitch that turned its engine off and on again at the worst possible moment, the Beresheet lander smashed into the moon at 300 miles per hour.

The good news: Those disks were designed to be indestructible. And the Arch Foundation is all but certain its payload survived the crash.

“We have either installed the first library on the moon,” says Arch Mission co-founder Nova Spivack, “or we have installed the first archaeological ruins of early human attempts to build a library on the moon.”

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First on the Moon: The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Experience

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – April.14.2019

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

** More on the Virginia university student CubeSat program mentioned in previous roundups here:

In a giant leap for Virginia Tech, the first satellite built by undergraduate students is scheduled to be launched into space on April 17, 2019.

One small step closer to reaching space, a group of Virginia Tech undergraduate students recently delivered their small satellite to Houston to be incorporated into NanoRacks’ commercially developed CubeSat deployer. Virginia Tech’s satellite, along with two satellites from other Virginia universities, is scheduled to launch on the payload section of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket and then will be headed to the International Space Station.

If the weather is clear, the Antares launch will visible over a large East Coast area: Rocket launch from Wallops Flight Facility to be visible from Hampton Roads, NE North Carolina | WTKR.com.

** An all girls team in Kyrgyzstan is building a smallsat:

Back in January we started crowdfunding on the Patreon platform and by the end of November the amount of donations has reached more than $1,100 per month. This amount has increased particularly after the aforementioned article in Quartz magazine.

Moreover, since November we have a donor-organization in the Kyrgyz space program — the Internews organization will donate sufficient amount of money that will cover expenses on building, testing and launching two (!) nanosatellites.

This does not mean that we no longer need patrons — there are quite a few unforeseen crazy ideas (for example, to test a prototype of the satellite in the mountains of the Issyk-Kul region), the costs of which are not included in the Internews grant, but are necessary to make the satellite launch happen.

** Canada’s Western University and Nunavut Arctic College will build a CubeSat to test

a novel imaging system for the engineering technology demonstration with the potential to provide virtual reality-ready images. This imagin system has future applications in the Earth observation and space exploration.

More at:

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-104 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • TAPR/AMSAT Banquet Speaker Announced
  • Seats Still Available for AMSAT Academy
  • AMSAT Activities at Hamvention 2019
  • N8HM to Appear on Ham Talk Live April 18th
  • Last Chance to Bid in ARISS Auction
  • ARISS SSTV Event Continues Through 18:00 UTC April 14th
  • Diwata-2 Designated Philippines-OSCAR 101 (PO-101)
  • March/April 2019 Edition of Apogee View Posted
  • How to Support AMSAT
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Space 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA, and International Partners are Creating a New Space Age

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – April.7.2019

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

** The SPACE HUAC project at Univ. of Massachusetts at Lowell involves undergraduates in the building a NASA sponsored CubeSat

The projects aims to

demonstrate the practicality of high data rate communications on a 3U CubeSat. A phased array of X-band patch antennas will allow for rapid beam steering.

** USC engineering students building CubeSat as a demo for Vector Launch‘s first rocket flight: Viterbi students build, deliver satellite to start-up | Daily Trojan

A team of students in the Viterbi School of Engineering have taken one small step toward space and made one big leap for their careers.

Early in March, these students finished building and delivered USC’s third CubeSat satellite, which is about the size of a breadbox. David Barnhart, a research professor in the astronautics department, led the students selected from the Space Engineering Research Center through the year-long building process of the satellite.

The team has successfully delivered the satellite to its customer, Vector Space Systems, a start-up developing satellites and launch vehicles. Vector will use this newly built satellite to test its technology in space and ensure it works before selling it to customers.

** Spudnik-1 project at University of Prince Edward Island in Toronto involves undergraduates and graduate students in the building and launching of a CubeSat for remote sensing applications: UPEI students continue work on small satellite | CBC News

Grant McSorley, project manager of the CubeSat project at UPEI, said the group of over 20 undergraduate and graduate students have been designing the satellite since September, and now, they’re putting the final touches on their first set of prototypes.

UPEI’s satellite, called SpudNik-1, will be used for what McSorley calls “precision agriculture” that will capture photos and monitor the state of farm fields across P.E.I.

“The idea is to take photos from space that researchers and farmers can use in order to decide where to apply fertilizer, where to apply water in a more efficient way than they’re doing right now,” McSorley said.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-096 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT India AISAT APRS Payload Operational on 145.825 MHz
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • UT1FG/MM QSL Procedure Announced
  • Hamvention Booth Announcement
  • AMSAT Activities at Hamvention 2019
  • The Case of the Unknown Satellites
  • Upcoming ARISS Contacts
  • International Space Station Astronauts are Calling CQ Students
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for March 2019
  • Raspberry Pi magazine MagPi Features Ham Radio
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

See also ANS-095 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin – AMSAT Files Comments in FCC Orbital Debris Mitigation Proceeding

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – April.1.2019

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

** Yale student team to build BLAST CubeSat with cosmic ray detector. The NASA sponsored spacecraft will launch in 2020: Student-built satellite to launch into space – Yale Daily News

On March 14, a group of Yale students learned some stellar news — NASA selected their satellite to be launched into space. The announcement marks the first time a Yale undergraduate group will launch a spacecraft.

The team — which consists of members of the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association — received the launch grant through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative competition. Over the course of four years, students designed a satellite called BLAST, which stands for Bouchet Low-Earth Alpha/Beta Space Telescope.

See also:

** CubeSat SeaHawk-1 with an ocean color instrument was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in December. The SeaHawk team has released the first images from the spacecraft: SeaHawk-1 CubeSat Captures First Ocean Color Image – UNCW.edu.

This first SeaHawk-1 engineering test image (pictured above) was captured by the HawkEye instrument on March 21st, 2019 at 18:47 UT from an altitude of 588 km and superimposed on Google Map data © 2019 Google, INEGI. At the current altitude that SeaHawk is flying, the pixel resolution of the HawkEye instrument is approximately 130 meters (425 feet) giving us an image size of approximately 6000 lines along track (780 km or 485 mi) x 1800 pixels across track (234 km or 145 mi). The true color full resolution closeup of the region from south of Monterey Bay to north of San Francisco (presented below) was produced by combining three of the Hawkeye bands (red band-6 (670nm), green band-5 (555nm) and blue band-2 (443nm).

The project is led by the SOCON (Sustained Ocean Color Observations using Nanosatellites) team at Univ. of North Carolina at Wilmington and also includes NASA, AAC Clyde Space, and Cloudland Instruments. The project was funded with grants from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

SeaHawk-1 is a 3U CubeSat (size 30x10x10cm and weight 5kg) designed and built by AAC Clyde Space and launched in December 2018 aboard SpaceX Falcon 9. SeaHawk-1 CubeSat was one of the 64 satellites included in the Spaceflight SSO-A Small Sat Express: their first dedicated ride-share mission for small satellites.

SeaHawk-1 is also the first 3U CubeSat specifically designed to carry an ocean color instrument payload (HawkEye). The goal of this proof-of-concept mission is to provide free high-spatial resolution images of Earth’s coastal regions. HawkEye, designed by Cloudland Instruments, is an 8-band multispectral instrument similar to SeaWiFS (one of the most successful ocean color missions to date).

It differs in that: it was miniaturized (10x10x10cm) to fit inside the CubeSat, band 7 was modified to improve atmospheric correction, all bands were designed not to saturate over land, and the entire sensor was built with low-cost, off-the-shelf materials.

** University of Toronto students fund and build CubeSat for space biology experiment: Lofty goals: UTAT gears up for milestone competitions – U of T Engineering News

The Space Systems Division is preparing to launch the first fully student-funded Canadian satellite into orbit. The small satellite, or cubesat — about the size of a loaf of bread — will carry a biological payload and will analyze the behavior of bacteria in space with the aim of assessing the risk of infections during a long-term space mission.

The team has a busy summer ahead: they’ll be testing the accuracy of the sensors on the cubesat, running hundreds of hours of electronics tests and conducting thermal tests to ensure their satellite’s components can withstand the extreme temperatures it will experience in orbit, between -40 and 80 degrees C.

The cubesat is scheduled to launch on the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in January 2020.

“Cassandra Chanen (Year 2 EngSci) shows off the Heron MK II, a cubesat that will take a microbiology payload to space. (Credit: Erica Rae Chong)”

** More about the Hampton University students developing CubeSat software in a project sponsored by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium:

Hampton University is part of a collaborative project of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium where students from three Virginia universities delivered small satellites to NanoRacks in Houston, to be integrated into a CubeSat deployer (NRCSD), which will be launched into space on April 17, 2019. Four undergraduate Hampton University students worked on the project by developing software to perform analysis on the data that will be received from the satellites.

“Hampton University has always been on the forefront of innovation. The work our students are doing is being recognized and utilized by industry leaders, and we are excited to be part of this collaboration,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.

The satellites will communicate data to ground stations at Virginia Tech, University of Virginia and Old Dominion University for subsequent analysis using an analytical tool being developed by Hampton University students from the Atmospheric and Planetary Science Department.

More than 140 undergraduate students have been hard at work on the mission since June 2016 as a cross-institutional team. Undergraduate student leaders and team members from physics, electrical engineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and computer science disciplines have worked together to make the mission a reality. The students have been coached by faculty advisors and have benefitted greatly from advice from NASA, industry and academic advisors, and NanoRacks, the world’s leading commercial space station company.

“Asanji Chofor at the CubeSat build AGILE workshop.”

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-090 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • SSTV Transmissions from ISS Set for April 1-2, 2019
  • AO73/FUNcube-1 Mode Changes
  • AMSAT Academy to be Held Prior to Hamvention Thursday, May 16, 2019
  • ARISS Out-of-this-Word Auction Starts April 8, 2018
  • International Space Station Astronauts are Calling CQ Students
  • India Space Research Organization to Launch EMISAT With 28 Satellites on April 1, 2019
  • AMSAT India Requests APRS Reports
  • GRCon19 to be Held September 16-20, 2019
  • This Month in AMSAT History
  • AmazonSmile for AMSAT!
  • Microwave Update Conference October 3-5, 2019 in Lewisville, TX
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past