Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Dec.2.2019

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** The Community Satellite Project aims to crowd-develop CubeSats

The Community Satellite Project is an online group of international space professionals and students, collaborating to launch BATSAT, a crowd-developed cubesat. The group was initially founded in early November 2019 via r/space, following a reputable space company’s offer of a free launch.

Our goals are not only to develop and use BATSAT to conduct cutting edge aerospace research, but to facilitate mentorship between space experts and students.

We are currently in the recruiting and mission defining stages of this process.

If you are interested in becoming part of the team, please get in touch via our Join Us page.

This article profiles one of the project’s founders and describes their plans: Southland teenager on mission to build satellite |

More than 740 people have joined the online group, including aerospace engineers, avionics and payload experts, cloud engineers, satellite ground station engineers and university students from all over the world. 

Of this, 260 supporters with specialist skills have been assigned to various teams to confirm the parameters of the project, with regular conversations held using an online meeting app. 

The collective decision is to build two small satellites, each about the size of a Rubik’s Cube, to test a theory about whether electro-magnetic tether straps can be used to de-orbit a satellite once it has come to the end of its life.

More about the project:

** Freeport, New York high school team building CubeSat funded with NASA grant:  Freeport High School prepares for liftoff | Herald Community Newspapers –

The students have broken their project into phases, and are now in the construction phase. Once Strong and Johnson finish building the satellite, they will conduct environmental tests to expose it to vibration, vacuum and temperature conditions closely identical to space.

Then the students will work with NASA to prepare to launch it into space. After the launch, the seniors will perform satellite operations and conduct space experiments. Once the space mission is complete, the nanosatellite will fall to Earth, possibly burning up in the atmosphere.

See also District Wins Grant to Build CubeSat – Freeport Public Schools.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-335 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Fox Leaderboard Will Show Monthly Leaders
  • AMSAT Will Be at Superstition Superfest Hamfest
  • Electron Booster on the Pad for Rocket Lab’s 10th Mission
  • FCC Seeks to Clear Radio Amateurs Out of 3.4 GHz
  • WRC-19 Final Report: Small Satellites and the 1240-1300 MHz Band
  • AMSAT Auction Celebrating 45th Birthday of AO-7 Raises $480
  • Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

The Juventas radar CubeSat to be deployed by the Hera mission to study the Didymos asteroids. Credits: ESA

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Videos: Night sky highlights for December 2019

** What’s Up: December 2019 – Skywatching Tips from NASA JPL

What can you see in the December sky? Beautiful pairings of planets and the crescent Moon throughout the month, at sunrise and sunset. Here’s where and when to look to see Venus, Saturn and Mars. Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at… . Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech

** Tonight’s Sky: December 2019Space Telescope Science Institute

Step outside on a cold December night when the stars shine bright to find the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, and Cepheus. They will help you locate a binary star system, a fan-shaped open star cluster, and a variable star. Stay tuned for space-based views of a ragged spiral galaxy, an open star cluster, and an edge-on galaxy.

** What’s in the Night Sky December 2019Alyn Wallace

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Space transport roundup – Nov.30.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):

** Rocket Lab‘s launch of an Electron rocket has been delayed:

More about the mission:

** China launched the Gaofen-12 earth observation satellite on a Long March-4C rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Taiyuan, capital of north China’s Shanxi Province, on Wednesday Nov. 28th9.

** More about latest UP Aerospace‘s SpaceLoft sounding rocket launch: UP Aerospace Announces Successful Launch of Space Loft-14 Rocket from Spaceport America – Spaceport America

The SL-14 Launch Vehicle reached an altitude of 57 miles. Additionally, as a fundamental step in UP Aerospace’s testing of new systems, this mission included a small second stage rocket motor and attitude control system. Advances made with the successful mission of these payloads will be pivotal as UP Aerospace moves toward the launch of their larger orbital vehicle, SPYDER.

In addition to these systems, SL-14 carried an experimental payload that seeks to improve access to space through the use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology. Using ADS-B for future space launch missions is expected to improve safety and reduce detrimental effects on commercial aviation. Other payloads on the mission also were designed to advance the state-of-the-art in avionics, flight management, and data recording with particular applications for emerging small launch vehicles.

** Blue Origin construction of Florida facilities continues apace: Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch pad taking shape at Cape Canaveral – ClickOrlando

Work has been ongoing on the launch complex preparing for New Glenn’s first launch but recently locals say it’s starting to take shape.

Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham called it a “monster” of a launch pad.

“It is going to be a beast,” Ketcham said.

And moving fast in Washington and California as well: Blue Origin expansion rushes ahead at Seattle-area HQ — and in L.A. – GeekWire

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture is rapidly expanding on several fronts, ranging from its headquarters facility south of Seattle to a new beachhead in the Los Angeles area — within the orbit of its main competitor, Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Just three and a half years ago, Blue Origin’s workforce amounted to 600 employees, and even then, Bezos said his company’s 300,000-square-foot office and production facility in Kent was “busting out of the seams.”

Now the employee count is at around 2,500, heading toward 3,500 in the next year. That’s according to a report from a Bangkok space conference quoting Clay Mowry, Blue Origin’s vice president for global sales, marketing and customer experience.

** Boeing highlights reuse of Starliner crew spacecraft:

** SpaceX:

*** Dragon cargo mission CRS-19 set for Dec.4th:

*** Crew Dragon in-flight abort test flight expected in late December or early January: NASA Invites Media to SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test for Commercial Crew – NASA

This will be among the final major tests for the company before NASA astronauts will fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. As part of the test, SpaceX will configure the spacecraft to trigger a launch escape shortly after liftoff and demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency. The demonstration also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

** SpaceX and Blue Origin aim to win a contract to take big NASA payloads to the Moon:  SpaceX’s Starship to spar with Blue Origin for NASA Moon landing contracts – Teslarati

Assuming SpaceX’s technical know-how is mature enough to allow Starship to preserve cryogenic propellant for weeks or months after launch, it’s entirely conceivable that a Moon launch with, say, 10 tons of cargo could be achieved with just one or two in-orbit refuelings, all while leaving that Starship enough margin to safely return to Earth. Given that NASA awarded Intuitive Machines and Astrobotic approximately $80M apiece to land 50-100 kg on the Moon, it’s far too easy to imagine SpaceX quoting a similar price to deliver 10+ tons to the Moon by enabling full Starship reuse.

All things considered, politics still looms in the distance and there is just as much of a chance that SpaceX (and maybe even Blue Origin) will be passed over by CLPS when the time comes to award the next round of Moon delivery contracts. Still, the odds of something far out of the ordinary happening are much higher with a program like CLPS. Stay tuned!

*** Lots of interesting activities at the Boca Chica beach facilities in the aftermath of the Mk.1 demo Starship explosion during pressure testing. This includes construction of a launch site for the complete Super Heavy Booster/Starship.

**** SpaceX Boca Chica – Building the Starship Super Heavy Pad – November 26, 2019 [NSF]

Views around SpaceX Boca Chica, including groundwork on the future Super Heavy’s pad. Guest Stars: Concrete Smoother Guys. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF.

**** SpaceX Starship Mk3 hardware arrives – Boca Chica Expansion – November 27, 2019 [NSF]

 As parts of Starship Mk3 arrive (mostly bulkhead), expansion of the Boca Chica site continues, including at the Super Heavy pad. Guest appearance from Stargate Arrays being tested (likely ahead of CRS-19). Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF.

**** SpaceX Starship Bulkhead and Second Ring Relocated Boca Chica, Texas [Nov.29.2019 – LabPadre]

Time lapse of the new partial bulkhead being moved to Iron Henge and second ring being moved from ring tent. This 24/7 stream is powered by LabPadre, in cooperation with Sapphire Condominiums and @BocaChicaMaria1 (Twitter) @SpaceXBocaChica (Facebook). All copyrights to live images are owned explicitly by LabPadre.

**** SpaceX Boca Chica Starship Progress Update  [Nov.29.2019 – Maria Pointer/LabPadre]

Second new tent frame continues to be erected. Tons of earth being moved on the West end of the property. More close ups of the damaged bulkhead from last weeks failure. New bulkhead has been moved into Iron Henge. MK-1’s nose sits quietly awaiting its fate.

**** SpaceX Starship Mk3 – Bulkhead heading for assembly/ongoing launch site work – November 29, 2019 [NSF]

The pace is picking up for Starship Mk3 in Boca Chica, with monolithic steel rings being fabricated (seen previous videos) and the bulkhead heading into the windbreak facility for assembly. Includes ongoing launch site work. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF. Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer) Learn about Starship Mk1, Mk3 onwards: UPDATES:… ARTICLES:…

*** In Florida, there are signs the Mk.2 components will move soon to KSC. There are also hints that construction activities will be re-distributed to facilities with fewer roadblocks for reaching KSC.

**** SpaceX Closing Down Starship work at Cocoa? [Nov.27.2019 – John Winkopp]

Aerial view. The big white crane is positioned at the nose cone so they can remove the header tank from the nose cone in prep for a move out of Cocoa. The header tank extends below the lip of the nosecone. The nosecone needs to be lifted to remove the header tank. It needs to be removed if the nosecone comes off its base for shipping. Wish I knew they were going to remove it, but did not see the actual removal.

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Videos: “Space to Ground” ISS report – Nov.29.2019

Here is the latest episode in NASA’s Space to Ground weekly report on activities related to the International Space Station:

** How NASA will bake in space for the first time and why that’s a BIG deal!

On November 2nd, 2019, Northrop Grumman launched a Cygnus Cargo Ship on a resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. On board was just over 3,700 kg of science experiments, vehicle hardware, crew supplies, and other important space stuff. But included on this flight was a space first. An oven. And not just any oven, but a custom zero g oven developed by Nanoracks, a leading provider of commercial access to space, that will be used to bake the first food in space – the DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie. So today, I thought we should do a history of space food, figure out why we haven’t ever baked anything in space before, and learn from the experts on how DoubleTree by Hilton, the sponsor of this video, will actually bake their cookies on the International Space Station. Article version here –…

** Expedition 61 Thanksgiving Message

Right now, half of the crew members on board the International Space Station are American astronauts who are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, and they have a message for us. Check in with NASA’s Christina Koch, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan, to learn more about what the holiday means to them and get a look at what Thanksgiving in space will be like in 2019.

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Carnival of Space #639 – Urban Astronomer

Urban Astronomer hosts the latest Carnival of Space.

“The first global geologic map of Titan is based on radar and visible-light images from NASA’s Cassini mission, which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017. Labels point to several of the named surface features. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU [Click to enlarge]“. Via Universe Today and Carnival of Space

Everyone can participate in space