Category Archives: Space Radio

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Feb.18.2019

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

** Surrey Space Center at the University of Surrey in the UK is the leader of the consortium that built the RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft, a 100 kg microsat deployed into orbit from the ISS last June with the help of NanoRacks. The goal of RemoveDEBRIS is to test several technologies for removing debris and derelict spacecraft from low earth orbit. (Stellenbosch University (South Africa) is another college member of the consortium.)

One of these technologies is a harpoon system that was tested successfully on Feb.8th: RemoveDEBRIS: success for harpoon experiment – SSTL

See also Experimental British satellite tests harpoon in orbit – Spaceflight Now.

Another technology for decreasing space junk involves deployment of a “sail”, i.e. a lightweight sheet, that increases the drag of the spacecraft as it flies through the extremely wispy remnants of the atmosphere in low earth orbit (LEO) and thus greatly decreases the time it takes to fall out of orbit.

Two drag sail demos involving Surrey are part of the SSO-A mission launched by SpaceX last December, which deployed of over 60 smallsats into LEO. Two so-called “Free Flyer” structures that deployed groups of the smallsats have themselves deployed sails. The two Free Flyers do not have any communications systems and so the team needs the help of skywatchers to track them: SSO-A Solar Sails deployed – may be visible to naked eye | Southgate Amateur Radio News

The free flyers separated from the launch vehicle and in turn deployed multiple satellites each including Microsats and CubeSats over the course of several hours. The Upper Free Flyer (NORAD ID: 43763) is a large structure at approximately 1,000kg and the Lower Free Flyer is approximately 260kg (NORAD ID: 43760). Each Free Flyer hosts one of our 16m2 aluminised kapton sail which was set to deploy 24 hours after launch.

The systems were standalone isolated systems with no communications so we don’t have any telemetry confirmation. Drag parameters from the TLEs are indicative of a successful deployment, but far from definitive. We’re therefore waiting for them to become optically visible in northern latitudes in the next couple of weeks. Based on the experience with our InflateSail mission, we’d expect these objects to be quite bright to the naked eye if the sails have deployed successfully. InflateSail was 10m2 and (initially) transparent with a +4.2 mag, whereas these sails are 16m2 and metalised so could well flare brightly.

Any observations that could be made by the community of either of these objects would be greatly appreciated and they should make for interesting targets.

** MeznSat –  UAE University Students Focus On Greenhouse Gases With New Satellite Project – SpaceWatch.Global

A nanosatellite named MeznSat is being manufactured by a group of university students in the UAE, the Khaleej Times has reported. The aim of the satellite is to pinpoint the cause of greenhouse gases. Once the data from the satellite is shared with students, analysts and researchers, it is hoped that they can work to mitigate the production of the gases.  The students, from the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) and the Khalifa University, aim to launch the satellite later this year.

** NepaliSat-1 is a joint project of Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) and the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology and is funded by the government of Nepal. It is Nepal’s first satellite. The cubesat will be transported to the ISS on a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo mission scheduled for April and later deployed into orbit from the station.

The BIRDS 3 Project at Kyutech also includes smallsats for Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka and Bhutan.

** A Brown University study of Canadian lakes relies on daily imagery available via Planet‘s constellation of around 150 CubeSats – Tiny satellites reveal water dynamics in thousands of northern lakes – Tech Explorist

In a finding that has implications for how scientists calculate natural greenhouse gas emissions, a new study finds that water levels in small lakes across northern Canada and Alaska vary during the summer much more than was assumed.

In all, the study explored four sub-areas of the North American Arctic and sub-Arctic and found the little-studied Canadian Shield to be most dynamic of all, with about 1.4 percent of its landscape seasonally inundated by small fluctuations in lake levels.

Cooley said, “What I’m most excited about from a science perspective is the ability to make use of this new CubeSat imagery,” Cooley said. “We couldn’t have made these observations without the CubeSats, and here we show that it’s possible to extract valuable scientific information from those images.”

Large space organization satellites trimmed with touchy logical instruments can assemble a wide range of data, however, basically, don’t make enough overhead [passes] to get changes that happen over brief timeframes. Furthermore, the satellites that do ignore once a day come up short on the camera goals to mention fine-scale objective facts of the lake region.

The CubeSats, as of late propelled by an organization called Planet, offered a potential solution. The organization works in excess of 150 satellites, which circle the Earth in a course of action that empowers them to picture Earth’s whole landmass every day as the planet pivots underneath them. And keeping in mind that the small satellites need modern logical hardware, they do have powerful cameras fit for catching pictures with 3-meter resolution.

** Exolaunch of Germany has arranged for over 60 smallsats, including many university CubeSats, to go to orbit this year: Exolaunch Plans Ambitious Launch Campaign |

Exolaunch, the German launch services provider formerly called ECM-Space, is preparing its most complex small satellite cluster to date.

This spring or summer, Exolaunch plans to send 40 small satellites, including a 16-unit cubesat for in-space transportation startup Momentus, into orbit on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Since its first launch in 2013, Exolaunch, a spinoff of the Technical University of Berlin, has helped send 54 satellites into orbit, ranging in size from one-quarter of a single cubesat to a 110-kilogram small satellite. Many of those were German spacecraft funded by the German space agency DLR, including the 20-kilogram TechnoSat and four eight-kilogram S-NET communications satellites from the Technical University of Berlin, the University of Stuttgart Institute of Space Systems’ 110-kilogram Flying Laptop and Wuerzburg University’s one-kilogram UWE-4 cubesat.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-048 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • QO-100 released by QARS
  • ARRL Adds JO-97, FO-99, QO-100 to LoTW Configuration File
  • New Distance Record on AO-91
  • Call for Papers – Digital Communications Conference
  • KickSat 2 Is Alive And Kicking
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Shorts From All Over

More CubeSat/SmallSat info:


Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Feb.10.2019

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

** Images of earth from lunar orbit are being captured via amateur radio transmissions from a transceiver placed on a Chinese satellite by a group at the Harbin Institute of Technology: Far side of the Moon photographed by amateurs – Dwingeloo Radio Telescope/CAMRAS

This image shows the far side of the Moon, as well as our own planet Earth. It was taken with a camera linked to an amateur radio transceiver on board the Chinese DSLWP-B / Longjiang-2 satellite (call sign BJ1SN), currently in orbit around the Moon, and transmitted back to Earth where it was received with the Dwingeloo Telescope.

Earth as seen from lunar orbit via a camera on the Chinese DSLWP-B / Longjiang-2 satellite and a transceiver built by a team at Harbin Institute of Technology. Credits Dwingeloo Radio Telescope.

This image represents the culmination of several observing sessions spread over the past few months where we used the Dwingeloo telescope in collaboration with the Chinese team from Harbin University of Technology, who build the radio transceiver on board Longjiang-2, and radio amateurs spread across the globe.

The transceiver on board Longjiang-2 was designed to allow radio amateurs to downlink telemetry and relay messages through a satellite in lunar orbit, as well as command it to take and downlink images. In that it has succeeded, as many radio amateurs have received telemetry and image data. Being able to use the Dwingeloo telescope to help with this has been a lot of fun.

Note that the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope in the Netherlands is the “largest radio telescope in the world for amateurs”.

See also

** New CubeSat Club: Exploring Space Science and Engineering | Villanova University

A new Villanova College of Engineering student organization has formed this year—the CubeSat Club. Dr. Alan Johnston, associate teaching professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the faculty advisor working alongside the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, a not-for-profit group that has been building and launching ham radio satellites for fifty years. Dr. Johnston volunteers with AMSAT as the vice president for education outreach. The CubeSat Club is aimed at introducing students to CubeSats and satellite technology…

See also AMSAT VP Educational Relations leads Villanova University CubeSat Club | Southgate Amateur Radio News.

** More about University of Southern Indiana CubeSat project – USI ventures into final frontier – The Shield

Five university undergraduate students were finally able to see the 10-by-10-by-30 centimeter satellite launch into the great beyond after two and a half years working on the UNITE CubeSat project.


The launch of USI’s UNITE CubeSat from the ISS. Credits: NASA and NanoRacks.

The five active members on the Undergraduate Nano Ionospheric Temperature Explorer (UNITE) CubeSat team, Wyatt Helms, Ryan Loehrlein, Zack Snyder, Sujan Kaphle and Nathan Kalsch, watched the satellite deploy from the International Space Station on campus Jan. 31.

“It was a really great feeling because after working on this project for two plus years, finally seeing something that you put so much time and effort into being deployed from the space station I mean, you don’t hear any sound but you just imagine this little ‘boop’ as it’s being shot out,” Helms, the team lead, said.

The CubeSat will be deployed for 15 months and has three main missions: conducting space weather measurements, measuring exterior and interior temperatures of the spacecraft for comparison with a thermal model and tracking orbital decay of the spacecraft in the lower ionosphere where other methods are in error.

[Project advisor Assistant Professor of Physics Eric Greenwood] said that the grant required the project to be student led. The professors were not allowed to build the components of the CubeSat or be hands-on.

“It’s very exciting to have something that I was involved in that’s up in space,” Greenwood said. “The pride I feel for our students is tremendous.”

See also UNITE CubeSat Project – UNITE CUBESAT.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-041 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AO-85 Turned Off Due to Return of Eclipses and Poor Battery Condition
  • Es’hail-2 / QO-100 Teleport Inauguration Day – February 14 [See Es’hail-2 / QO-100 Teleport Inauguration Day – February 14 | Southgate Amateur Radio News]
  • New Telemetry Decoder for FalconSat-3
  • AMSAT VP Educational Relations Leads Villanova University CubeSat Club
  • US Schools/Groups Move Into Phase 2 of ARISS Selections
  • Application Window Opens for European ARISS School Contacts
  • REMINDER – ARISS/NOTA Slow Scan TV Event Runs Until February 10
  • ISS Packet Operations Resume on 145.825 MHz
  • Ham Talk Live Podcast ARISS Update With Frank Bauer, KA3HDO
  • KG4AKV’s SpaceComms YouTube Channel – Building a Groundstation
  • FUNcube Dashboard Summary Update
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for January 2019
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • AMSAT-Francophone Satellite Design and Operation Survey
  • Early Bird Registration Opens for Cal Poly Cubesat Training
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:


Telescopes and Binoculars at Amazon

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Jan.14.2019

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

** Say hello to my little friend– it’s a tiny satelite – INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

Korea’s own rocket boys are hoping to reach for the stars. Fueled by a life-long passion and the spirit of entrepreneurship, they’re hoping to lead a new generation of space innovation in the country.

Last month, eight Korean space enthusiasts in their 20s and 30s came together to form a group dubbed the Space Mafia at a cafe in Seoul.

Besides being united in their love for the cosmos, the members are all CEOs of space-related start-ups. Their specialties are diverse, including small artificial satellites, rockets, robots, drones and sensors.

** TriVector Services donation aids ASGC CubeSat workshop – Univ. Alabama at Huntsville

A $5,000 donation from Huntsville aerospace engineering firm TriVector Services Inc. has boosted efforts by the Alabama Space Grant Consortium (ASGC) to design and build the first in a planned series of statewide collaborative cube satellites (CubeSats).

Trivector’s donation helped to sponsor a recent workshop about the project, which will carry a gamma-ray burst (GRB) detector to be placed in the vicinity of the moon to detect short gamma-ray bursts.

“TriVector’s generous donation helped to offset expenses associated with holding the Alabama Student CubeSat Workshop late last year,” says Dr. Dale Thomas, who is the ASGC director as well as a professor and the eminent scholar in systems engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

** MySat-1 opens up opportunities for UAE youth in space sector –

Dubai: UAE students who built MySat-1, a ‘CubeSat’ launched last year to the International Space Station (ISS), are now more informed and capable to contribute to the developing space sector of the country.

The 10-centimetre cube satellite MySat-1 was developed by students of the UAE-based Khalifa University of Science and Technology and was successfully launched to space on board the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft.

MySat-1’s launch came on the heels of launch of KhalifaSat, the UAE’s first 100 per cent Emirati-made satellite launched on October 29.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-013 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT 50th Anniversary Awards Program
  • Fox-1 CubeSat Model Kits Available
  • CubeSat Airborne Science Payload Standard
  • UWE-4 CubeSat frequency change request approved
  • HamSCI 2019 Workshop Set for March in Cleveland, Call for Papers Issued
  • Nominations Solicited for Six ARRL Awards
  • AMSAT Argentina Special Event
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:


Telescopes and Binoculars at Amazon

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Jan.1.2019

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

** Soyuz launches cluster of 28 satellites – Spaceflight Now

The University of Würzburg’s fourth experimental CubeSat, known as UWE 4, carries a miniaturized electric propulsion system to be demonstrated in orbit, and also serves as an educational tool for the German university’s engineering students.

The other satellites deployed in the Fregat’s final orbit were ZACube 2, a South African CubeSat, and the Lume 1 CubeSat from Spain.

Equipped with an AIS receiver to monitor ships and a medium-resolution near-infrared camera to track maritime traffic and detect wildfires, ZACube 2 was developed by the French South African Institute of Technology and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology near Cape Town. Lume 1 comes from the University of Vigo and a spinoff Spanish company named Alén Space, and is also designed for the early detection of wildfires.

** Würzburg experimental satellite “Uwe 4” arrived in orbit | BR24 (Translation)

From now on, “Uwe 4” should contact the ground station in Würzburg six times a day for about ten minutes. “Uwe 4” is supposed to circle the earth for about a year. The micro satellite carries an electric engine that allows it to change its orbit in orbit. In the class of the so-called “Pico satellites” , up to a weight of one kilogram, the Würzburg researchers are the first to succeed.

“In this respect, this is a new milestone for the world of micro-satellites, which was realized together with the partners of the Technical University of Dresden.” Professor Klaus Schilling from the Chair of Robotics and Telematics

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-364 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT CW Activity Day January 1, 2019 In Memory Of W3XO
  • Soyuz Flight Deploys Amateur Radio Satellites
  • In-Orbit Test (IOT) of Es’hail-2 AMSAT P4-A transponders
  • Changes to the AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for December 27, 2018
  • Ham Talk Live Podcast Featuring KO4MA
  • Multiple Flight Projects Selected by International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory
  • AMSAT Awards Update
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

** Episode 146 – Making the Most of Satellite Time | Ham Talk Live! – “Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, from AMSAT is here to talk your calls about getting the most out of satellite time. We’ll talk about what to say, when to say it, and other etiquette and protocol issues so that you can make the most of your satellite operation!”

[spreaker type=player resource=”episode_id=16579382″ theme=”light” autoplay=”false” playlist=”false” cover=”” width=”450″ height=”400px”]

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

Improving GOES weather satellite imaging with low cost home ground station

Back in August I wrote here about a low cost system to receive images from GOES weather satellites. A reader points me to an improved software package described on the SDRplay Community Forum for obtaining better images with the system:

USA-Satcom has just released v2.1.0.0 of the XRIT Decoder. Along with enhancements for the XRIT Decoder, a new RSP Streamer X has been released and is operable with the RSP1A, RSP2, and RSPduo – new features include operation with two streams simultaneously (provided that the PC being used has sufficient processing power and an RSPduo or more than one compatible RSP are being used). Also new is the XRIT File manager which allows for improved operation with both LRIT and HRIT files, improved LUT for excellent false color images, user-selectable automated black filling of the white background on full disk visual and false color HRIT images, and country as well as state map overlays.

The new color enhancements are excellent:

GOES 16 Earth Full Disk LR – SDRplay Community Forum