Category Archives: Amateur/Student Satellite

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 | Stuff.co.nz

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 – www.liherald.com

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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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Nov.24.2019

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

** Update on Arizona State’s Phoenix CubeSat, which reached the ISS on the recent Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo mission: Arizona State University students design satellite to research Urban Heat Island – abc15.com

“Concrete and asphalt tend to retain the heat of the sun and heat the place. We want to know exactly why, where, and when the cities are heating up,” De La Vega stated.

Once the satellite gets deployed by astronauts onboard the International Space Station in January, the team will be testing, calibrating, and hopefully, receiving data from the satellite for further research.

ASU Phoenix Cubesat Diagram
Component diagram of the ASU Phoenix Cubesat.

** And an update on the Univ. of Minnesota’s SOCRATES cubesat, which also rode the Cygnus to the ISS: The University of Minnesota Sends CubeSat to Space – Food & Beverage Herald

[SOCRATES} is the first-ever made by the university in a joint venture featuring university professors and students from a variety of space-related fields and engineering. The project is under NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project, which was started three years ago to give students opportunities to build and launch satellites into space.

More than 30 students from the university were interested in the program, led by Kyle Houser, the chief engineer and Burgett, the project manager. The SOCRATES was developed in the university’s Small Satellite Project Lab, founded by Demoz Gebre and physics professor Lindsay Glesener for a small satellite study.

The SOCRATES is fitted with state-of-the-art X-ray detection sensors to provide navigation when GPS is inaccessible. The satellite will also be able to capture information on electronic acceleration from solar flares to aid in the study of the solar phenomenon. The SOCRATES will be released to orbit the Earth in January 2020 from the International Space Station, where it is held at the moment.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-328 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Auction Celebrating the 45th Birthday of AO-7 Now Live
  • November 18 Marked 2nd Anniversary On Orbit for AMSAT-OSCAR 91
  • November 21 Marked 6th Anniverary of AMSAT-UK’s AO-73 FUNcube-1
  • Proposed FCC Auction of C-Band Increases Competition for Allocations
  • Satellite Operations From the Queen Mary on December 14
  • Donate to AMSAT Tax-Free From Your IRA
  • Open Source ‘APRS to Discord’ Bridge Project Begins Testing
  • ARISS Activities
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • The Voyage Home: Japan’s Hayabusa-2 Probe Heads Back to Earth
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Nov.17.2019

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

** EdgeCube to go to ISS on SpaceX Cargo Dragon in December. The cubesat, built by a collaboration of student teams at Sonoma State, Santa Clara Univ., and Morehead State Univ. in Kentucky, will be deployed into orbit from the ISS in January: Cube satellite built by SSU students set to orbit the Earth – The Community Voice

Sonoma State received funding for EdgeCube in June 2016, after physics and astronomy professor Lynn Cominsky wrote a proposal to NASA. The proposal called for monitoring the “red edge” of the chlorophyll spectrum in large patches of homogeneous vegetation using a CubeSat or a small satellite. Since then, approximately 30 students have worked on the project from Sonoma State, Santa Clara University and Morehead State. Professor Matt Clark from SSU’s Department of Geography and Environmental Planning was the originator of the idea to measure the “red edge,” hence the name “EdgeCube”. 

More at Edgecube – sonoma state university ~ Santa clara university ~ Morehead State university.

EdgeCube components view. From FCC application (pdf)

**  Virginia Tech inspireFly team wins SEDS SAT-2 contest. SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space),  Astranis, and NanoRacks sponsored the competition. The winning team will receive a free ride to the ISS for their CubeSat, which will then be deployed into orbit.

From the SEDS announcement:

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), the largest student-run space and science advocacy organization in the world, today announced that Virginia Tech’s inspireFly team is the winner of the Astranis SEDS SAT-2 competition. Astranis, a manufacturer and operator of small geostationary satellites, contributed to the cost of the launch, while competition co-sponsor Nanoracks, a leading provider of commercial access to space, will launch and deploy the winning CubeSat on the International Space Station in the next two to three years.

Open to U.S. SEDS chapters, the competition tasked teams with submitting a design for a novel 1U CubeSat. The competition kicked off at SpaceVision in November 2018, where interested teams had the opportunity to attend an Astranis/Nanoracks workshop on designing, building, and integrating a CubeSat for low Earth orbit.

Thirteen chapters from across the country entered the competition and submitted proposals. The judging panel included members of the SEDS-USA Board of Advisors and Directors, as well as employees from Astranis and Nanoracks. Proposals were judged on their technical merits, the non-technical capabilities of the team to develop and support the design, the professionalism of proposal, the novelty of the proposed CubeSat mission, and the demographic makeup of the design team and their mentors.

Virginia Tech’s team was selected as the winner for its ContentCube project, a selfie-stick for space that will take pictures of an external LCD screen–featuring publicly-submitted photos–with Earth in the background.

inspireFly Mission Profile – Credits: inspireFly at Virginia Tech

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-321 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Happy 45th Birthday AMSAT-OSCAR 7!
  • 19th Anniversary of ARISS Operations
  • PO-101 (Diwata-2) QSLs Available
  • IARU Update Regarding Amateur Satellite Allocations
  • AMSAT Member Dhruv Rebba, KC9ZJX, Youth Excellence Award
  • G4BAO 23cm-45 W-PA Available as Public Domain
  • Changes to AMSAT TLE Distribution for November 14, 2019
  • Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Nov.12.2019

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

** The Phoenix CubeSat built by Arizona State Univ. students successfully reached the ISS via the recent launch of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft. It will be deployed into orbit in January: ASU Students Launch NASA-Funded CubeSat To Study Urban Heat Island – KJZZ

ASU Phoenix CubeSat team

Students from Arizona State University have launched a small, NASA-funded research satellite to study the urban heat island in seven U.S. cities, including Phoenix.

The Phoenix CubeSat is one of seven nanosatellites selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, which supports projects designed, built and operated by students, teachers and faculty, as well as NASA centers and nonprofit organizations.

An interdisciplinary group of around 100 ASU undergraduates took part in the effort, which will use an off-the-shelf thermal infrared camera to study changes in the heat properties of cities across the U.S. over time.

The term “urban heat island” describes an urban area that experiences warmer conditions than its surroundings due to human activities, the thermal properties of building materials and other related factors.

** Univ. Minnesota SOCRATES smallsat reaches the ISS on the same Cygnus.

The cube satellite, Signal Opportunity CubeSat Ranging and Timing Experiment System (SOCRATES), is the first small satellite created by the University sent into space by NASA. The satellite is equipped with high energy X-ray sensor detectors that can help with “deep space navigation” when GPS is not available. SOCRATES will also collect data related to electronic accelerations in sun flares to help research on solar anomalies.

The project is a collaboration between University faculty and students of different disciplines, like aerospace engineering, physics and astrophysics. SOCRATES is currently on the International Space Station and is expected to be released back into Earth’s orbit in January 2020.

See also

** India sponsoring competition for high school student CubeSat projects to fly on high altitude balloon:

The National Design and Research Forum (NDRF) has invited student teams from high schools across the country to take part in its National Space Challenge 2020 contest of flying small or cube satellites on a balloon.

Teams of five students from class 8 to class 12 can send in innovative proposals by November 25, the Bengaluru-based engineering research and development promotion body said in a release.

** EdgeCube built by students at Sonoma State, Santa Clara Univ., and Morerhead State to go to ISS on upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 Cargo Dragon mission: Cube satellite built by SSU students set to orbit earth and collect data on vegetation health | SSU News

A student-built satellite about twice the size of a Rubik’s Cube has passed a series of tests to travel to space this December as part of a NASA-funded project involving three universities including Sonoma State. Built in partnership with Santa Clara University and Morehead State University in Kentucky, the “EdgeCube” satellite is scheduled to fly aboard a Space X Falcon 9 rocket on its way to the International Space Station. From there it will be boosted into orbit 500 kilometers above the Earth to collect data on vegetation health in ecosystems around the globe.

** “Are CubeSats the future of space exploration” – TMRO.tv program about CubeSats.

This week Kevin DeBruin, Author of ‘To NASA and BEYOND: Perseverance to Achieve the Impossible [Amazon ad commission link]‘, talks about lessons from AeroCube-10, TeamXc at JPL and the use of CubeSats for outreach and education. Do you think CubeSats are the future of space exploration or are they better suited to education/student purposes?

**  TEPCE (Tether Electrodynamics Propulsion CubeSat Experiment) to test electrodynamic tether propulsion for CubeSats: A Space Tether May Solve Space Debris Problem | Asgardia – The Space Nation.

Built at the U.S. NRL (Navel Research Laboratory), the smallsat was launched on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy last June. The spacecraft is expected to soon separate into two parts connected by the 1 kilometer long tether.

Electrodynamic propulsion works on electromagnetic principles similar to an electric motor. The magnetic field in an electric motor attracts an electric current that flows through the windings of the armature causing the armature to spin. In space, the Earth has a naturally occurring magnetic field and for TEPCE, the tether wire serves the purpose of the armature. By inducing an electric current to flow along the tether, a mutual attraction between the Earth’s magnetic field and the tether will occur. This electromagnetic attraction can propel TEPCE to higher altitudes or to change the orientation of its orbit.

“U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Tether Electrodynamic Propulsion CubeSat Experiment‘s CubeSat split into two and connected by a tether.” Credits: Cameron Crippa/U.S. NRL.

More at

** HEPTA-Sat program teaches Smallsat engineering to students around the world:

HEPTA-Sat (Hands-on Education Program for Technical Advancement) is a hands-on study of small satellite design and engineering over several days of intensive practical lessons. HEPTA-Sat hand-on course puts it focus on establishing the knowledge of system engineering by going through the whole process of system integration. During the course student will learn how the system is broken down into different subsystem (requirement), how to integrate those different subsystem (requirement) into a fully functioning system, and how to test/debug it once it has been integrated. HEPTA-Sat teaching methods are designed to be implemented in existing universities anywhere. The program is supported by a vibrant instructor community and is open to people of any educational or professional background.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-314 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • HuskySat Paving the Way for Cooperation
  • WRC-19 Debates Satellite Allocations
  • Electron Booster on the Pad for Rocket Lab’s 10th Mission
  • 2020 Cubesat Developers Workshop Call for Papers
  • Second Batch of 50th Anniversary “Friends of 50” Certificates Sent
  • AMSAT Seeks Digital Communications Team Members
  • NO-83 (BRICSAT-P) Nears Re-Entry
  • Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Orbit Design, Debris Impact, and Orbital Decay Prediction

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Nov.3.2019

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

** NG Cygnus carries HuskySat-1, built by Univ. Washington students, to ISS.

HuskySat-1 is a 3U CubeSat designed, built, and tested by the Husky Satellite Lab. HuskySat-1’s goal is to test two experimental payloads, a Pulsed Plasma Thruster, and a high-frequency K-band communication system, as well as hosting an Amateur Radio Linear Transponder.

HuskySat-1 is being developed by an interdisciplinary team at the University of Washington and will be launched into Low Earth Orbit to become the first amateur satellite from Washington state. This CubeSat will demonstrate the capabilities of new technologies being developed at the University of Washington and expand the capabilities of CubeSats as a whole. In particular, a high-thrust pulsed plasma thruster (PPT), and high-gain communications system will form the core technology suite on board the satellite. The HuskySat-1 will also be flying a newly developed Amateur Radio Linear Transponder developed by AMSAT which will contribute to the worldwide communication networks built and operated by ham radio enthusiasts.

HuskySat-1
HuskySat-1

More about the project: Washington’s first student-built satellite preparing for launch | UW News

Some of the student-built parts will still be in test mode. A custom-built thruster uses sparks to vaporize small amounts of solid sulfur as a propellant. The thruster will fire about 100 times as the satellite passes over Seattle, only enough thrust to provide a slight nudge. A high-bandwidth communications system built by former graduate student Paul Sturmer, now at Blue Origin, transmits at 24 Gigahertz, allowing the satellite to quickly send reams of data. That system will send down a test packet from space.

“Usually people buy most of the satellite and build one part of it. We built all the parts,” Northway said. “It was a pretty serious undertaking.”

** Seven student built CubeSats on Cygnus in total: Seven Student-Made CubeSats Set To Fly Aboard Antares –  NASA

On Saturday, seven small research satellites, or CubeSats, developed by students from eight universities across the nation will fly on Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops, Virginia, targeting a launch at 9:59 a.m. EDT.

All seven CubeSats were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) and are a part of the 25th Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission. CSLI enables the launch of CubeSat projects designed, built and operated by students, teachers and faculty, as well as NASA Centers and nonprofit organizations. ELaNa missions provide launch and deployment opportunities and ride-shares to space for CubeSats selected through CSLI. Students are heavily involved in all aspects of the mission from developing, assembling, and testing payloads to working with NASA and the launch vehicle integration teams. The ELaNa CubeSats are held to rigorous standards similar to those adhered to by the primary spacecraft.

Five of the CubeSats were developed through NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project or USIP.

The 5 USIP CubeSats flying on Antares are:

    • RadSat-u –  Montana State University – Bozeman
    • Phoenix –  Arizona State University – Tempe
    • SOCRATES  (Signal of Opportunity CubeSat Ranging and Timing ExperimentS) – University of Minnesota – Minneapolis
    • HuskySat-1 – University of Washington – Seattle
    • SwampSat II – University of Florida – Gainesville

The additional two CubeSats flying through CSLI are:

    • Argus-02 – St. Louis University – Missouri
    • HARP (Hyper Angular Rainbow Polarimeter) –  University of Maryland, Baltimore County – Baltimore and Utah State University – Logan

More about HARP: Tiny NASA satellite will soon see ‘rainbows’ in clouds | EurekAlert.

** 300 days operating in orbit for ZACube 2 research CubeSat built at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT): South African nanosatellites will track shipping, fires | The BRICS Post

A constellation of South African nanosatellites will be put in orbit next year to monitor shipping to prevent the poaching of marine resources such as abalone and sharks, while they will also track fires so ground-based personnel can move livestock out of harm’s way and prevent the spread of the fire.

The technology for this constellation is being proven right now as the ZACube 2 research nanosatellite from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) will log its 300th day in orbit on the 23rd October 2019. ZACube 1, also known as TshepisoSat, was launched on 21st November 2013 and is still communicating with the ground station.

The ZACube 2 satellite is performing well in orbit and proving the technology that the university has developed,” Professor Robert van Zyl, the Director of French South African Institute of Technology (FSATI) said.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-307 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • HuskySat Successfully Lifted into Space
  • ARISS Contact Opportunities – Call for Proposals
  • FoxTelem Version 1.08r Released
  • Fox-in-a-Box Upgrades for FoxTelem V 1.08
  • AMSAT Seeks Digital Communications Team Members
  • The 39th Annual ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference Announced September 11-13, 2020, Charlotte, NC
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for October 2019
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Orbit Design, Debris Impact, and Orbital Decay Prediction