Category Archives: Space Radio

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – June.17.2020

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

** NASA expands Cube Quest Challenge competition:  NASA Invites Competitors to Shoot for the Moon and Beyond | NASA

NASA is inviting additional teams to compete in the Cube Quest Challenge. You can still participate in the in-space phase of the challenge and be eligible to win part of a $4.5 million prize purse.

The Cube Quest Challenge, NASA’s first in-space competition, incentivizes teams to design, build and deliver small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the Moon. To compete, new teams meeting the eligibility criteria must obtain a ride to deep space for their CubeSats – either through commercial launch opportunities or programs like NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.

“We welcome new teams to join us in this challenge in pursuit of advancing space exploration,” said Monsi Roman, program manager for NASA’s Centennial Challenges. “When we established the Cube Quest Challenge in 2015, commercial flight opportunities weren’t as available. Now that technology has advanced and commercial partners are flying payloads, it is a great time to make potential participants aware of the opportunity.”

Fifteen university and private developer teams have already competed for prizes to showcase creative CubeSat technologies through ground-based tournaments, or phase one, of the Cube Quest Challenge, which was completed in 2017.

Three winners received spots as secondary payloads on Artemis I, the first integrated test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft. These teams have been working on their CubeSats, readying them for launch. Once deployed from the rocket, the teams will begin phase two, the in-space competition.

In-Space Competition

All Cube Quest Challenge competitors, both new and current, will compete in one of two arenas. The Lunar Derby is where CubeSats are to maintain a verifiable lunar orbit. There’s also the Deep Space Derby, in which CubeSats reach approximately 1.8 million miles from Earth.

Once in orbit, the CubeSats must complete various tasks outlined in the competition rules document to be eligible for prize money. To ensure data integrity, each satellite must transmit NASA-provided communications data to be eligible for prize money.

The Next Frontier

“The Cube Quest Challenge opens the lunar and deep space environment, thanks to the mastery of several technologies,” said Elizabeth Hyde, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and technical advisor for the challenge. “The three technology areas we see as important for jumping from low-Earth orbit to deep space are communications, propulsion and radiation tolerance for CubeSats.”

Initiatives such as the Cube Quest Challenge aim to make deep space exploration more accessible and open up commercial space opportunities beyond low-Earth orbit.

“The next frontier is small satellites. Development efforts are aimed at pushing the boundaries of CubeSat exploration beyond low-Earth orbit,” Hyde said.

The competition is a part Centennial Challenges, based at the NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Centennial Challenges is a part of the Prizes and Challenges program within NASA’s  Space Technology Mission Directorate. The challenge is managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

To register to compete in the challenge, visit:

For more information of NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, visit:

For more information about NASA’s Prizes and Challenges, visit:

**  Code In Space! initiative challenges students to create software to upload and run on a CubeSat in orbit. The 1U CubeSat is named QMR-KWT.  Both the satellite and the initiative are sponsored by  the Kuwaiti company Orbital Space and developed in partnership with EnduroSat of Bulgaria. The educational program “is open to all students from all schools and universities around the world“.

The code will be uploaded to the nanosatellite from a ground station operating in UHF frequency range. The code will be executed by EnduroSat’s Onboard Computer Type I (high-performance and low-power computing platform). Code executions test results will be received by a ground station operating in UHF frequency range.

Participation can be as an

individual, or team based and should include a mentor (teacher/ university faculty member or scientist affiliated with a school or academic/ research institution)

Software apps will be selected on the basis of how well they provide

a solution for current challenge or limitation in the satellite industry or new concept that could be of value to satellite technology.

The CubeSat will get to orbit in February 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9. After deployment from the F9 upper stage, it will get to its target orbit with the help of a Momentus Vigoride transfer vehicle:

** Rocket Lab Electron rocket successfully launched the ANDESITE cubesat built by the BUSAT (Boston University SATellite) group: Rocket Lab launches Boston University’s magnetosphere experiment – As described here back in March, ANDESITE will

… release eight small satellite sensors in space to form a first-of-its-kind free-flying mesh network capable of delivering uniquely comprehensive data mapping of magnetic fields and space weather to our smart phones here on campus.”

Illustration of the ANDESITE 6U cubesat with picosat deployments. Credits: BUSAT

**  Cal Poly, birthplace of the CubeSat, gets USAF grant for smallsat program: Cal Poly Partnership with Air Force Research Laboratory Will Direct $2.5 Million to Aerospace Engineering Department

Funding Aims to Boost Mini-Satellite Program for Space Exploration

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Cal Poly’s partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory will direct roughly $2.5 million to enhance the university’s Aerospace Engineering Department and boost its mini-satellite program, which was the catalyst for a substantial expansion of space research two decades ago.

The Education Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Air Force provides a total of $5 million to be split evenly between Cal Poly and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. Funding for the partnership was secured by three U.S. representatives from California — Salud Carbajal, Norma J. Torres and Grace Napolitano — through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 (H.R. 1158).

The EPA’s agreements between a defense laboratory and an educational institution allow the labs to provide laboratory equipment and personnel to the schools, plus career and academic advice to students while involving faculty and students in research.

The EPA will help the Air Force Research Lab pioneer transformative aerospace technologies and accelerate its long-term strategic objectives in key areas, such as energy security, energy optimization, reusability, maneuverability and multi-mission mobility.

In particular, the funds for Cal Poly will support a thermal vacuum chamber with upgraded facilities to support it. A thermal vacuum chamber can be used for testing spacecraft or spacecraft parts under a simulated space environment.

Cal Poly became a major contributor to space research roughly 20 years ago, when former Aerospace Engineering faculty member Jordi Puig-Suari co-created the CubeSat standard with Bob Twiggs of Stanford University. CubeSats are mini-satellites that are affordable and easy to make, allowing governments, schools and private companies worldwide to more easily and affordably explore space and conduct research. 

The new vacuum chamber will allow researchers to test and develop propulsion for CubeSats, allowing for greater control of the satellites for space exploration. Currently, most CubeSats cannot be controlled in space, and propulsion and maneuverability are often viewed as the next major step in CubeSat technology.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-166 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • 38th Annual AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting Moving to Virtual Event
  • 15 Canadian CubeSats to launch from 2021 [See also The RAC Report]
  • AMSAT Member Portal Huge Success!
  • BY70-2 with FM-to-Codec2 Transponder Scheduled for July Launch
  • Two Satellites Receive Frequency Coordination from the IARU
  • IARU Submits Paper on Increasing Noise from Digital Devices
  • New Satellite Distance Records Claimed
  • ISS Runs 6558 Astro Pi Youth Programs in 2019/20
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires and Other Events
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** SSMS inaugural flight on Vega – ESA

Multiple small satellites will be launched at once on the Vega VV16 mission from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This flight will demonstrate the modular SSMS dispenser resting on its upper stage intended to bring routine affordable launch opportunities for light satellites from 0.2 kg CubeSats up to 400 kg minisatellites. Until now the smallest classes of satellites – all the way down to tiny CubeSats, built from 10 cm modular boxes – have typically ‘piggybacked’ to orbit. They have to make use of any spare capacity as a single large satellite is launched, meaning their overall launch opportunities are limited. The new Vega Small Spacecraft Mission Service switches this into a ‘rideshare’ model, with multiple small satellites being flown together, splitting the launch cost…

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – June.9.2020

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

** Univ. of New Hampshire students to built CubeSat to study Earth’s upper atmosphereUNH Space Science Center offers out of this world experience – Univ. of New Hampshire

Scientists from the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center will use a $4.6 million grant from NASA to create a project that will offer a diverse group of college students from across the country hands-on research experience designing and building small satellites that will be launched into outer space and collect data for one of NASA’s space missions.

The Student Collaboration Project, led by Noé Lugaz, a research associate professor of physics, aims to work in conjunction with NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission and build off of the collected data to provide firsthand research experience for undergraduate and graduate students and help to diversify the field of space science.

“We’re missing out on so much potential with great people out there,” said Lugaz. “Most science projects are publicly funded, and we want to expand access to college students who are qualified and have a passion for science to get involved, no matter what their major. We are hoping to inspire them, even if it’s just for one year. We think we can really start to make a difference.”

Project coordinators will recruit the first group of students from three universities–UNH, Howard University in Washington, D.C. and Sonoma State University in California. During the five-year project, students from each university will design and build a CubeSat–a small satellite the size of a half-gallon of milk–that will have an instrument that can quantify the concentration of oxygen in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and provide scientists with clues about the effects of the solar wind. This is the region where many satellites are located and knowing more about the atmosphere’s density could help determine their orbit and lifetime.

The student built CubeSats will launch in 2024 separately from the main IMAP mission but at the same time in order to collect complementary data. The CubeSats will be in space for about four months and will be located much closer to the Earth than the other IMAP instruments.

** Technical Univ. of Budapest SMOG/P/ATL-1 picosats measure spectra usage globally.

The pocketqube style satellites were launched in Dec. 2019 along with four other picosats on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket and ejected into orbit via a deployer from Alba Orbital.

SMOG-P pocketqube -Technical Univ. of Budapest

See also SMOG-P (MO-105) and ATL-1 (MO-106) – CubeSat and LEO Satellites – AMSAT Deutschland e.V. Forum.

** RamSat built by Oak Ridge Tennessee middle school students to go to the ISS in the autumn:  For members: RMS satellite scheduled to launch in September – Oak Ridge Today

The small cube satellite built by Robertsville Middle School students with help from teachers, mentors, and NASA is scheduled to launch on a resupply rocket to the International Space Station in September, and it could be deployed into orbit a few hundred miles above Earth in October.

Testing of the satellite and its components, including a battery test and vibration tests, was scheduled to start this week.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:

ANS-152 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin:

  • Temporary Rule Waivers Announced for 2020 ARRL Field Day
  • IARU-R2 Workshop Videos Available
  • Digital Mode Experiments Conducted on Linear Satellites
  • SpaceX Launches Successfully Toward ISS
  • Moonbounce Contact via FT8 Could be a First
  • Mid-Altitude Balloon Race Planned for June 1
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

ANS-159 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin:

  • Newly Revised 2020 Digital Edition of “Getting Started with Amateur Satellites” Now Available
  • Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Team in the United States Creates a New Organization: ARISS-USA
  • AMSAT President’s Statement on Creation of ARISS-USA
  • Back Issues of The AMSAT Journal Available to AMSAT Members
  • AO-73 Now in Full-Time Transponder Mode
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for June 2020
  • KG5FYJ Assigned to Upcoming ISS Mission
  • A New Way to Obtain GP Data (aka TLEs)
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

See also:

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

RainCube: “(a) The integrated radar payload and flight avionics in the 6-U bus chassis. (b) The fully integrated RainCube satellite including the solar panels and the deployed radar antenna.” Credits: SPIE, RainCube
    • Coast Guard Auxiliary Supports Research Efforts – MarineLink – “As part of the DHS Science & Technology Polar Scout CubeSat project, the RDC constructed a satellite ground station in Fairbanks, Alaska. This labor-intensive effort required the construction of an 18-foot radome structure. The successful completion on this ground station provided a valuable resource for the Coast Guard and DHS while testing CubeSat technology in support of Arctic search and rescue.

** Smallsat built at UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy to fly on next Rocket Lab Electron launch:

**  NASA STEM Stars: CubeSats

“NASA STEM Stars” is a web-chat series that connects students with subject matter experts to learn about STEM careers and ask questions about STEM topics. This week, “NASA STEM Stars” is joined by aerospace engineer Allison Evans, who specializes in CubeSats. Learn about her path to NASA and how she ended up building and testing spacecraft the size of a loaf of bread.

** Hiber smallsat constellation will provide IoT services for a diversity applications such as assisting beekeepers:

** 1st “Make Space Boring” virtual conference – Jason Kanigan – Lowering the 40%+ Smallsat Failure RateCold Star Technologies – YouTube

Jason Kanigan of Cold Star Tech speaks at the first “Make Space Boring” virtual conference. His topic is lowering the awful 40%+ partial plus full mission failure rate of small satellites.

** Building small satellite/cubesat missions in Indian universities

What goes into building a cubesat program at a university? What are the difference between university teams trying to build satellites in India against US? How can we improve the overall ecosystems in academia to build more student missions in India? Here are some great insights from Sharan. NewSpace India Episode 25 June 5, 2020

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – May.24.2020

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

** NASA grant for Univ. of Hawaii team developing CubeSat kits for undergraduate projects:  UH awarded $500K to develop small-satellite educational kits | University of Hawaiʻi System News

In a bold new initiative to inspire the next generation, NASA has awarded $2.4 million to six universities, including the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, as part of its Artemis Student Challenges. UH Mānoa received $500,000 to create to create an affordable 1U CubeSat kit, which will help develop a robust aerospace program starting at the undergraduate level, including hardware, software and an online lab course.

UH Mānoa will generate hands-on learning opportunities related to orbital and suborbital CubeSats, miniaturized satellites for space research, containing all of the subsystems of fully functioning passive satellites. Each CubeSat will include onboard computing, communication components, dynamic sensors, an infrared camera and an electrical power system. Undergraduate students will help develop all aspects of the project under the guidance of Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory (HSFL) engineers, and will have paid internship positions.

“We are proving that smallsats are absolutely within the realm of an undergraduate education and will develop this course into a national online course in the public domain through a popular online learning platform,” said Frances Zhu, Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology assistant researcher.

The hands-on learning opportunities will be supplemented with online learning resources. The grant will also be used to assist CubeSat projects from states that are not yet part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. This team will include a broad network of students from Hawaiʻi and Washington to perform the initial evaluation of the learning products.

Here was the grant announcement: NASA Funds Artemis Student Challenges to Inspire Space Exploration | NASA

University of Hawaii, Honolulu – $500,000: The university will generate hands-on learning opportunities related to orbital and suborbital CubeSats containing all of the subsystems of a fully functioning passive satellite. Each CubeSat will include onboard computing, communication components, dynamic sensors, an infrared camera and an electrical power system. The hands-on learning opportunities will be supplemented with online learning resources. The grant will also be used to assist CubeSat projects from states that are not yet part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. This team will include undergraduate students from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. A broad network of students from Hawaii and Washington will be included in performing the initial evaluation of the learning products.

UH Manoa awarded $500k for Artemis Project – Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory

New faculty member, Dr. Frances Zhu, recently applied for and won one of six NASA Artemis Student Challenge Awards. She is the PI on this exciting new project to create a foundation enabler 1U CubeSat for $5000 or less per unit with an online lab course. This will help undergraduate programs interested in starting an aerospace track to do so. The goal of the kit is not solely for space flight, it can be used as a tabletop sensor suite, avionics for a sounding rocket, the payload balloon or suborbital mission, a sensor pack for a rover, and more. The team responsible for designing, fabricating, and testing the kit will include HSFL Facu lty, Staff, and undergraduate students. The project kickoff was held on May 18.

Diagram of the NEUTRON-1 CubeSat in development by  the Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory (HSFL) at the Univ. of Hawaii. The spacecraft will measure low energy neutron flux in the low Earth orbit environment. Credtis:HSFL


** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:

ANS-138 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Receives PPP Funds During COVID-19 Pandemic
  • [HuskySat-1 (HO-107) Transponder is Open – ARRL]
  • HuskySat-1 Designated OSCAR 107 (HO-107)
  • AMSAT Executive VP Congratulates HuskySat-1 Team
  • New Satellite Frequency Chart Is Free to Members
  • ARISS Continues Test of MultiPoint Telebridge Contact via Amateur Radio
  • 10th Annual GNU Radio Conference Goes Virtual
  • AMSAT-EA Receives IARU Coordination for Two Satellites
  • AO-7 Delivers Stunning Contact
  • UN Launches Second Space4Youth Competition
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

 ANS-145 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins

  • AMSAT Announces 2020 Field Day Rules
  • AMSAT Awards Update
  • AO-27 Returns from the Dead
  • Updated GOLF Project Information Available
  • Changing HuskySat-1 Keps Name in FoxTelem
  • Hack-a-Sat Team Boasts Exceptional Participation
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

See also: Two New Chinese Ham Satellites Expected to Launch in September –

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Launching Both CubeSats and Events With SEDS Rice President Ryan Udell – Via Satellite

SEDS Rice Chapter President Ryan Udell gives us an example of next-gen space leadership. An engineering major eager to connect his fellow students with the greater space industry, Ryan has taken it upon himself to revamp the SEDS chapter at his university, transforming the club from a single member to over 30!

From there, he founded and hosted the inaugural Owls in Space Symposium event, which featured attendees such as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and NASA astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson. Additionally, he led Rice University’s entry into the NASA CubeSat launch initiative project, which was 1 of 18 winners to be launched into space. 

In this episode, On Orbit talks to Ryan about the similarities and differences in leading (and launching) two very different projects, and what it takes to be a next-gen space leader.

** Craig Clark – Pioneering the UK Smallsat Industry – Cold Star Project S02E37

Founder & CSO of AAC Clyde Space Craig Clark is on the Cold Star Project, and our topic is how Clyde has strongly contributed to the pioneering of the UK small satellite industry. With host Jason Kanigan, Craig shares:

– what the most important thing he learned from 11 years as a team leader at Surrey Satellite Tech was
– a snapshot of the UK space industry…where he believes its principle expertise or competitive advantage is, and where it is headed
– what he learned on the UK’s Space Leadership Council, and what impact he believes the Council has
– how Clyde minimizes the smallsat field’s awful 40+% partial plus full mission failure rate…what he has learned about refining quality assurance to produce cubesats in bulk without compromising reliability
– what the most challenging thing at the moment is, given that getting people together to manufacture something is not easy to achieve
– the mission he is most proud of so far, and why.

AAC Clyde Space website:

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – May.11.2020

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

** Alabama university student-led CubeSat project to study radiation shielding properties of lunar regolith: ASGC cube satellite would explore using lunar soil as human radiation shield – Univ. Alabama at Huntsville

Science aboard an Alabama Space Grant Consortium (ASGC) student-led cube satellite mission called AEGIS could be valuable to developing future human outposts on the moon and in space travel to Mars if NASA gives the go-ahead for a 2022 flight.

Based at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), ASGC member universities are Alabama A&M University, Auburn University, Tuskegee University, The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, UAH and the University of South Alabama, and all are involved in AEGIS.

An experiment to test the radiation-shielding properties of simulated lunar soil, or regolith, is aboard the AEGIS CubeSat under development. The science is important to future lunar colonies because transporting shielding materials to the moon will be expensive, says Dr. Michael Briggs, assistant director of UAH’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) and a principle research scientist who is advising the AEGIS science mission.

CAD rendering of the AEGIS cubesat. Credits: J.Fuchs & M. Halvorson UAH

“In contrast, lunar regolith will be readily available,” he says. “Calculations show that lunar regolith will work well as a shield and NASA is studying its use as a construction material. Our goal is to improve our knowledge of its radiation shielding capacity.”

Future Mars missions could benefit from spacecraft that use lunar regolith as shielding.

“Since the lunar gravity is weaker than the Earth’s,” Dr. Briggs says, “it could be easier to use lunar material for radiation shielding for a spaceflight to Mars.”

ASGC’s 6U CubeSat measures slightly smaller than 4x8x12 inches. The craft will achieve an egg-shaped cislunar orbit that will swing it out from the Earth toward the moon and then back to Earth again.

“It is crucial to test the shielding in a radiation environment equivalent to what astronauts will be exposed to on the surface of the moon or while traveling to Mars,” Dr. Briggs says.

AEGIS mission is funded by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). Over 120 students from Alabama colleges will be involved. The spacecraft will be launched into a high earth orbit as a secondary payload on a SLS mission as early as 2021 or 2022.

For more details about AEGIS, ee the paper The Alabama Experiment on Galactic-Ray In-Situ Shielding (AEGIS) Project: A Multi-University 6U CubeSat for Radiation Shielding Analysis and Workforce Development. J. Fuchs & M. Halvorson, (pdf).

“Instrument overview with major elements and dimensions labeled. Two sides of the instrument readout eparately for control and shielded background comparison.” Credits: J.Fuchs & M. Halvorson UAH

**  Michigan Technological University sending second student built satellite to ISS. The Stratus CubeSat will be deployed in March 2021.

Stratus vehicle is a three-axis-stabilized thermal infrared telescope that will be used to image atmospheric clouds. Using asynchronous stereo image processing, the data from Stratus will provide Cloud Fraction, Cloud Top Wind, and Cloud Top Height information that can be used to reconcile climate models. If successful, a number of inexpensive Stratus spacecraft could be deployed in the future to gather hyper-local weather data.

The first MTU project,  Oculus-ASR, was deployed last summer: And Then There Were Two: MTU’s Next Student-built Satellite Set to Launch in 2021 | Michigan Technological University News

Once successfully deployed, Stratus will be the University’s second orbiting nanosatellite. The first, Oculus-ASR, was launched from Cape Canaveral in June 2019. Another satellite, Auris, designed to monitor communications emissions from geostationary satellites, has cleared system concept review in the design and development phase of the Air Force Research Lab University Nanosatellite Program (AFRL UNP). 

Bill Predebon, J.S. Endowed Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics in the College of Engineering, welcomed the news of a second satellite launch with praise for King and Aerospace Enterprise team members. “It is amazing that Michigan Tech will have a second student-built satellite in space next year.”

Development of Stratus has been slowed by the Coronavirus shutdowns but work will soon resume.

Michigan Tech Aerospace Team Program Manager Troy Maust, a fourth-year computer engineering major, has been working on the CubeSat project for about a year. 

“This mission has been in the works for much longer,” he said. “As with Oculus, I estimate more than 200 students and alumni have been part of this mission; it wouldn’t be possible without them. I am delighted to see these years of hard work pay off.”

The 10-by-10-by-30-centimeter, 4.4-kilogram Stratus CubeSat is considerably smaller than the 70-kilogram Oculus-ASR, a microsat which measures 50-by-50-by-80 centimeters. But both, as well as Auris, are classed in the broader category of nanosatellites, the craft that represent an important development in space industry trends. 

Stratus CubeSat in development. Credits: Michigan Tech (MTU)

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:

**** ANS-124 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • New AMSAT Membership Portal Launched, March/April 2020 Edition of The AMSAT Journal Now Available
  • AMSAT President Hails Launch of Wild Apricot Membership Portal
  • Call for Nominations – 2020 AMSAT Board of Directors Election
  • RS-44 Transponder Now Active
  • Virginia Tech Camera on AO-92 Takes Stunning Photos, Additional Passes Planned Tuesday, May 5th
  • Redesigned AMSAT CubeSat Simulator Launched
  • Changes to AMSAT TLE Distribution for April 30, 2020
  • FCC Adopts Updated Orbital Debris Mitigation Rules
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for April 2020
  • Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge Virtual Hackathon, May 30-31
  • On-Line Student STEM: TI Codes Contest 2020
  • First Guatemalan Satellite Deployed from the ISS
  • Former AMSAT Area Coordinator, Prominent DXer Herb Schoenbohm, KV4FZ, SK
  • During the COVID-19 Pandemic, ARISS to Begin Experimental Demonstrations of School Contacts using a Multipoint Telebridge Amateur Radio Approach
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

**** ANS-131 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • 2019 Back Issues of The AMSAT Journal on
  • Call for Nominations – 2020 AMSAT Board of Directors Election
  • New Chinese Amateur Satellites Expected to Launch in September
  • Cubesat Developers Workshop Presentations Available
  • Visual Observations Of RS-44 Underway
  • Hack-a-Sat Call for Participation
  • NASA TV To Air Cygnus Departure From Space Station
  • Online Amateur Radio Satellite Talk on Zoom
  • Satellite Distance Records Set
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over
  • [Update: ANS-131b Special Bulletin: HuskySat-1 Transponder is Open]

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Benoit Chamot – CubeSat Attitude Control: ADCS from CubeSpace – Cold Star Project S02E34

Head of Sales & Marketing for CubeSpace Benoit Chamot is on the Cold Star Project, and with host Jason Kanigan we’re looking at attitude determination and control systems (ADCS) for satellites. We discuss:
– how Benoit earned Masters degrees from both Lausanne and MIT, and the projects involved
– the critical ADCS system for satellites, and the components they’re made of such as sun sensors, reaction wheels, PCBs
– why CubeSpace chose to focus on reaction wheels, designing and manufacturing their own CubeWheel product
– why the company encourages South African space industry and opportunities for young engineers

CubeSpace website:

** CubeSat – YouTube: Now includes several videos of presentations at the recent 2020 CubeSat Developers Workshop such as, A Standard Micro Propulsion System for CubeSats, by Joe Cardin, Chris Day (VACCO Industries):

** The AMSAT CubeSatSimThe CubeSat Simulator Project Page

This video shows the new AMSAT CubeSatSim, a low cost functional model of a 1U CubeSat nanosatelite. The video shows the boards and frame in the new version and the use of FoxTelem software to decode telemetry.

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Orbit Design, Debris Impact, and Orbital Decay Prediction

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – April.29.2020

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

** Quetzal-1 CubeSat, developed at the University del Valle de Guatemala, was deployed into orbit from the ISS yesterday.  The project was sponsored by  KiboCUBE, a collaboration of the Japanese space program JAXA and United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Guatemala launches Quetzal-1 cube satellite through UNOOSA and JAXA KiboCUBE programme – Univ. Vienna .

Deployement of Guatemala’s Quetzal-1 cubesat from the Japanese Kibo module on the ISS. Credits: JAXA

The satellite – Quetzal-1 – is Guatemala’s first and will unlock new possibilities for the country and help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The primary objective of the mission is to test a multispectral sensor to acquire remote sensing data for natural resource management. The sensor could be used to monitor water quality in inland water bodies, helping to achieve SDG Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation.

The project supports SDG Goal 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure – helping Guatemala develop its capacities in aerospace engineering and sparking innovations, such as the sensor created for the satellite. Women were an integral part of the winning team that engineered the satellite, contributing to SDG Goal 5 – gender equality.

The project has been made possible thanks to the strong collaboration of several entities: UNOOSA, JAXA, UVG, the UK Space Agency, the University of Colorado, the University of Chile, TEC Costa Rica, and the University of Würzburg among others. This is in line with SDG 17, partnership for the goals: international collaboration can unlock new frontiers in leveraging space for development.

The KiboCUBE programme offers the opportunity for institutions from developing countries to develop a cube satellite to be deployed from the ISS Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo). The programme, which recently completed its fifth round, enabled Kenya to deploy their first satellite in 2018, 1KUNS-PF, developed by a team from the University of Nairobi.

Views of the deployment:

Updates and further info about the project:

** Berkeley student-built QubeSat to test quantum gyroscope in orbit. The CubeSat project was selected by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative for launch in 2021: Students’ shoebox-sized satellite gets green light for launch | Berkeley News

“The NASA grant is just for the launch, so we have still got to supply and manufacture the satellite ourselves,” said [Paul] Kӧttering, a junior majoring in applied mathematics and physics. “Luckily, the cost of CubeSats has dropped significantly over the past three to four years. The communications systems, power systems, control systems — a lot of those are just off-the-shelf, commercial parts, so they are quite cheap. The payload itself is the more expensive item, but again, a lot of that comes from in-kind donations from companies.”

Called QubeSat, or quantum CubeSat, the group’s satellite will test a new type of gyroscope based on quantum mechanical interactions in imperfect diamonds. The diamond gyroscope was invented in the UC Berkeley laboratory of physicist Dmitry Budker, a Professor of the Graduate School who is now also at the Helmholtz Institute at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

The student team is part of an undergraduate aerospace club called Space Technologies at Cal (STAC) that has already flown experiments aboard balloons and the International Space Station — an impressive record for a group that started only four years ago. Some of the group’s graduates have gone on to work for SpaceX, Boeing and other aerospace companies.

Boasting about 65 members from a range of majors, including physics, math, engineering, chemistry and environmental sciences, they’re currently working on four projects they hope will push innovative new space technologies.

“The NV-diamond, a quantum gyroscope, will sit in the middle of the magnetic coils, which will be encased in a box that blocks outside magnetic fields, which would interfere with the measurements. (Diagram by STAC team)”. Credits: STAC & Berkeley News

** Washington State University student-built CougSat-1 will study plant germination in microgravity. The Cougs in Space student organization is developing the CubeSat, the first for WSU to go to space. Cougs in Space prepare satellite – The Daily Evergreen

Teams from Cougs in Space are working together to build a satellite that will be launched from the International Space Station by this October. 

Mathew Bauer, junior computer science major and president of Cougs in Space, said the satellite is a 10-centimeter cube, or “CubeSat.” It will contain cameras to monitor conditions and pea seeds germinating, which means growing in an internal chamber. 

“The germination of pea seeds, the germination of seeds in general, is something that has never really been done outside of the International Space Station,” Bauer said. “They’ve never seen how seeds react in space.”

Bauer said Cougs in Space has been building the satellite for about one and a half to two years.

There are many teams responsible for different parts of the satellite, he said. The structure team builds the body of the satellite, the payload team is responsible for the pea seeds and the germination chamber and the communication team will receive data from the satellite when it is in space. Other teams are responsible for electrical systems, computing and controls, among other functions.

CougSat-1 CubeSat. Credits: Cougs in Space.

CougSat-1 will got to the ISS aboard a Cargo Dragon this fall and be deployed into orbit via Nanoracks.

Find updates at Cougs in Space (@cougsinspace) / Twitter

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-117 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • March/April 2020 Edition of Apogee View Posted
  • Long-Lost U.S. Military Satellite Found By Amateur Radio Operator
  • Let’s Take Some Pictures
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution
  • The W4AMI Award and How to Obtain One
  • New OSCAR T-Shirt Available from AMSAT Zazzle Store
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Terran Space Technologies presentation at NewSpace Pitch in Singapore last year: Singapore’s Infinite Orbits wins NewSpace Pitch at APSCC2019 | SpaceTech Asia

** Polaris: Machine Learning for Satellites:

A presentation on Polaris (, an open source Python project to apply machine learning to satellite telemetry. This presentation was supposed to be given at the 2020 Cubesat Developer’s Workshop (… the workshop was cancelled because of COVID-19, but the organizers have allowed us to record our presentations for the archive. Links: – The Polaris project can be found here: – The slides for this presentation can be found here:… – The demo shown in this video can be found here: https://deepchaos.spac

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