Category Archives: Amateur/Student Satellite

Nanoracks to deploy FEES2 picosat from the ISS

Nanoracks and GP Advanced Projects (GPAP) will soon deploy a picosat a third the size of a standard CubeSat from the International Space Station.  GPAP refers to its picosat design as a 1/3U CubeSat (10cm x 10cm x 3cm). The first demo reached orbit in 2020 and was called the Flexible Experimental Embedded Satellite  or FEES.

FEES is a 1/3U Cubesat for in-orbit demonstration and validation of electronic components.

Cubesats systems were born in 1999 as a result of the cooperation between California Polytechnic State University and Stanford University, which defined the standards of this new satellite category. Typical Cubesats have a 10x10x10 cm dimension, 1U volume and are nominally in the nanosat or picosat satellite class.

These attributes being set, Cubesats allow affordable cost launch and different applications, since they lend themselves to educational, scientific and commercial purposes.

More than fifteen years later than the first cubesat prototype, we knew we could go even further. This vision led us to the development a 1/3U Cubesat, miniaturising the Cubesat technology in just 30% of former volume. FEES is the result of our commitment to this project.

Incredible partners like Politecnico di Milano, Brno University of Technology, CESI, LINKIT, Laser and Pandigital joined us in the program, giving birth to a 10x10x3cm satellite with a 300g mass which has been launched into orbit in October 2020.

Here is the announcement of the deployment of second FEES satellite (FEES2) into orbit, this time from the ISS:

Nanoracks to Deploy First-Ever 0.3U CubeSat from Space Station

NOVEMBER 23, 2021 – Torino, Italy – Nanoracks Europe is on track to set a new record as the company prepares to deploy the first-ever 0.3U CubeSat from the International Space Station (ISS). The satellite, named FEES2, was developed by the Italian company GP Advanced Projects and is approximately the thickness of a cherry. It will be one of the smallest trackable objects deployed directly from the Space Station.

FEES2 (Flexible Experimental Embedded Satellite-2) is a platform for demonstrating and validating CubeSat technology in orbit. The mission will test critical satellite components, such as GPS receivers and attitude control systems that have specifically been designed for miniaturized experiments.

GP Advanced Projects (GPAP) selected Nanoracks Europe for the integration services, launch brokerage, and deployment of FEES2 in June 2021 to reach orbit quickly and efficiently. Nanoracks’ proven business model provides flexible opportunities for its customers to demonstrate innovative technologies utilizing the ISS.

Guido Parissenti, CEO and co-founder of GPAP, remarked that

“The ISS has been a sort of booster for our company’s growth. Thanks to this deployment opportunity, which we contracted just five months ago, we will reach a major milestone towards the building of the first Italian nanosatellite constellation for IoT [Internet of Things], which is our long-term goal.”

The miniaturization of space technologies is a trend that allows for broader participation in space research and for CubeSat developers to make progress more rapidly. Companies like GP Advanced Projects that are seeking to deploy small satellites might have had difficulties reaching orbit in the past due to funding or launch accommodations. This mission demonstrates that such deployments are not only possible but that they can also be completed in a very short amount of time.

To approve FEES2 for deployment from the ISS, Nanoracks performed a feasibility study with NASA to verify the satellite’s trackability and quantify its deployment parameters. After careful evaluation, FEES2 was approved for integration into a Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD). The satellite is now integrated into an NRCSD with several other CubeSats and is manifested on the 24th SpaceX Commercial Resupply (SpX CRS-24) mission to the ISS, which is planned to launch in December 2021.

“We were excited that GP Advanced Projects entrusted Nanoracks to get the job done,”

said Adriana Aiello, Systems Engineer for Nanoracks Europe.

“Of course, we were going to make this happen for GP Advanced Projects – this is our specialty. Our customers’ needs challenge us to be innovators and disruptors, and we’re proud to bring a new customer and new technology to the Space Station.”

[Nanoracks Europe’s CEO, Veronica La Regina, said,]

“This is an absolutely exciting opportunity for Nanoracks Europe to make a difference in enabling wider access to space in our community,” […] . “Nanoracks’ passion for opening space access is one of our greatest assets, and this mission proves to be yet another example of the tenacity for making new things happen.”

Nanoracks offers a variety of satellite launch opportunities, including deployments from the International Space Station, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, the SpaceX Rideshare program, and from India’s PSLV. Learn more about Nanoracks’ satellite opportunities here.

About Nanoracks: Nanoracks, a Voyager Space Company, is the world’s leading commercial space services provider. Nanoracks owns and operates private hardware on the International Space Station and has launched over 1,300 research experiments, deployed over 300 small satellites, and owns and operates the Bishop Airlock on the ISS. Today, Nanoracks leverages over a decade of experience to develop new commercial space systems in direct response to customer needs. These space systems include converting commercial launch vehicle upper stages into functional secondary platforms, building new habitable space stations, supplying payload and crew airlock systems and services infrastructure, and more. Follow @Nanoracks on Twitter to learn more.

About GP Advanced Projects: GP Advanced Projects is an innovative SME active in both production and management of space projects. The company is developing PiCo, a picosatellite constellation dedicated to IoT data retrieval anywhere in the world. The first demonstrator satellite has been successfully deployed in March 2021.

In addition, thanks to its experience in project & innovation management, GP Advanced Projects enabled different non-space companies and institutions entering the space sector; the company is also actively engaged in scientific projects for both ESA and NASA.

For more information, visit

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Feb.12.2021

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

** Swiss student team aims to launch two CubeSats by 2023 for atmospheric research. The  Spacecraft Team at EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) will lead the CHESS project: EPFL moves boldly into space with its CHESS satellites – EPFL

Designing a satellite and launching it into space is no run-of-the-mill project. Rather, it’s one that forever marks the early careers of the students who take part – just ask the EPFL students who designed the SwissCube, a 1U CubeSat (a small standardized unit measuring 10 cm x 10 cm) launched in 2009. Today, a new group of students, the EPFL Spacecraft Team, is taking on a new challenge. With the support of the EPFL Space Center (eSpace), they are developing a constellation of two satellites, called CHESS, that will be launched in two years. The team is currently seeking additional members and sponsors.

This ambitious project has already signed on six universities, three companies, 15 professors and 53 students.* The two satellites will work in concert; each one will be a 3U CubeSat bearing primary and secondary payloads. They will orbit at different altitudes – one will travel in a circular orbit at the low altitude of around 550 km, and the other will travel in an elliptic orbit at an altitude oscillating between 400 km and 1,000 km. The constellation will be launched in March 2023 and remain in flight for at least two years.

This project will give the students who participate each year a chance to learn about complicated space technology and gain experience working on a cross-disciplinary team. “It’s a way to learn the real-world skills required in our industry, like team management, coordination, communication and fundraising,” says Emmanuelle David, the deputy director of eSpace. “These are skills you can’t learn only from a book. And they will let the students become operational as soon as they start their first job or when and if they decide to start their own business.”

New technologies will be tested thanks to the CHESS mission. Credits: EPFL

See also EPFL to Launch New Satellites by 2023 –

** Brigham Young University “Spacecraft Selfie Cam” CubeSat makes orbit on Virgin Orbit’s first successful LauncherOne mission: BYU’s ‘Spacecraft Selfie Cams’ reach space, history-making cube-satellites deployed –

The science team at Brigham Young University (BYU) is finally where no Cougar has gone before, with a camera.

“Spacecraft Selfie Cam” is the nickname of BYU’s tiny cube satellites, “CubeSats” for short.

The school’s science team has made history with the tiny 6-inch space probes. For the first time, satellites designed in Provo have been successfully deployed in space.

About 60 students worked on the NASA funded project over a five year span:

BYU is part of a NASA project where the directive is, “The PICs mission will demonstrate low-risk, low-cost, spacecraft inspection by a passive, fly-away probe.”

What does it mean? The satellites are designed to take pictures of other satellites, and that’s how they got the name “Spacecraft Selfie Cam” If you watch science fiction movies, you have seen the probes portrayed hundreds of times in many ways. Essentially the probes fly out into space from the spacecraft and inspect for damage. Only BYU’s little probes are real.

Passive Inspection CubeSat (PICS) at Brigham Young Univ. Credits: BYU Spacecraft Group

See also

** First Kuwaiti satellite to launch on SpaceX Falcon 9 in June 2021: Kuwait’s first satellite is on track for mid-2021 launch – SatellitePro ME

“QMR-KWT space mission is to empower students to contribute to the advancement of satellite communication technology, and to prepare them as future professionals to operate the next generation of communication satellites,” said Nada Alshammari, Director of Educational Programmes at Orbital Space. “Orbital Space is undertaking this pioneering mission in order to create educational opportunities for students from around the world to learn more about satellite communications. We are already seeing engagement from students with our QMR-KWT educational program ‘Code in Space’” added Nada Alshammari. “Code in Space is an opportunity for students to develop and test new software solutions by writing software code to be uploaded and executed on the satellite’s onboard computer. We are currently accepting student proposals for this out of the world opportunity.”

The QMR-KWT satellite will go to space via a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rideshare mission, currently set for June of this year. A Momentus Vigoride transfer stage will take the satellite to its target orbit after release from the F9 upper stage.

See also June launch set for first Kuwait satellite | ZAWYA MENA Edition.

** Curtin University in Australia prepares  for launch of the first of five Binar CubeSats. WA space program: Curtin University’s Binar Cubesat set for launch in late 2021 | Community News

Curtin University’s Binar CubeSat, the first satellite model fully designed and built in Australia, is set to launch into space later this year.

The five launches planned for the next two years will be aided by $500,000 in funding from the State Government.

The funding will be used by Curtin University to employ two senior engineers to support the scheduled launch of five Binar CubeSats in 2021 and 2022.

This will be the first constellation designed, developed and operated in Australia.

The satellite can be used for a range of applications such as remote sensing, imaging, communications and defence.

In partnership with Tokyo-based start-up Space BD Inc, Curtin will release WA’s first spacecraft from the International Space Station into low earth orbit in late 2021.

See also:

** SriShakthiSat, built by students at Coimbatore College in India, set to launch on PSLV rocket on Feb.28th. A ground station on campus was inaugurated during a visit by ISRO Chairman K. Sivan.

** Cape-3 CubeSat built by students at Univ. of Louisiana at Lafayette successfully communicates with ground station after reaching orbit via Virgin Orbit LaunchOne mission: Students’ CAPE-3 satellite collecting data for NASA as it orbits Earth | University of Louisiana at Lafayette

At about four inches across each side, the “CubeSat” is small. And fast. It circles the globe every 90 minutes at 17,000 miles per hour. Radiation levels collected along the way via a small Geiger counter and a small plastic chip embedded inside will help inform NASA efforts to develop small, chip-based radiation detectors.

“The detectors would provide liquid crystal display readings so astronauts could constantly monitor how much radiation they’re being exposed to,” explained UL Lafayette’s Dr. Paul Darby, the project leader.

Darby, an assistant professor in the University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the detectors could be configured like wristwatches astronauts could wear, or credit cards they could carry in their pockets.

The research is part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. The initiative provides opportunities for colleges and universities to conduct scientific investigations in space; findings, in turn, assist NASA with exploration and technology development.

** Univ. of Michigan MiTEE CubeSat operating in orbit after launch on Virgin Orbit LaunchOne rocket. The spacecraft, whose full name is Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment-1, will test a electrodynamic tether for propellantless propulsion. See previous posts about the MiTEE project here and here.

See also Pioneering a way to keep very small satellites in orbit | University of Michigan News.

** University of Toronto institute sent a dozen satellites into orbit on recent SpaceX Rideshare mission: Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Announces Successful Launch of 12 Satellites on SpaceX Ride-Sharing Mission | UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory

Space Flight Laboratory (SFL), a developer of complete microspace missions, today announced the launch and successful deployment of 12 satellites on January 24, 2021. The SpaceX Falcon 9 ride-sharing mission carried three different SFL-designed microspace platforms into orbit for three separate commercial constellations.

The January 24 launch included:

    • Three formation-flying, radio frequency geolocating microsatellites built upon SFL’s 30-kg DEFIANT platform for HawkEye 360 Inc. of Herndon, VA.
    • One next-generation greenhouse gas monitoring microsatellite, known as GHGSat-C2 or “Hugo”, built by SFL on its 15-kg NEMO platform for GHGSat Inc. of Montreal, Canada.
    • Eight commercial communications CubeSats developed using the SFL 6U-XL SPARTAN design.

This week’s deployment of the DEFIANT microsatellites also marked the third entirely new microspace platform developed by SFL to reach orbit in just the past five months. SFL’s SPARTAN bus was introduced for the first time on September 28, 2020, with the launch of two communications CubeSats. And SFL’s NAUTILUS microsatellite platform made its debut on September 2, 2020, with the launch of the NEMO-HD Earth observation mission for Slovenia.

“These launches demonstrate SFL’s unmatched ability to innovate and deliver quality at any size on short schedules,” said SFL Director, Dr. Robert E. Zee. “SFL is a unique microspace provider that offers a complete suite of nano-, micro- and small satellites – including high-performance, low-cost CubeSats – that satisfy the needs of a broad range of mission types from 3 to 500 kilograms.”

** CubeSat built by high school students in Sirius on the Black Sea to launch this year: Satellite developed by Sirius high school to be launched into space in late 2021 –  TASS

A space weather nanosatellite, developed by Sirius high school students, will be launched at the end of 2021. The test model has already passed the initial trials, the high school told TASS Wednesday.

“The small spacecraft of the CubeSat-3U format will be brought to the orbit in late 2021. Sirius’ own satellite will collect data on space weather for Moscow State University (MSU) scientists. The satellite was assembled by students at Sirius high school, under supervision of the ‘Space systems and remote Earth probing’ laboratory specialists,” the high school press service said.

** Two Taiwanese CubeSats launched with SpaceX Rideshare mission. The Ionospheric Dynamics Explorer and Attitude Subsystem Satellite (IDEASat) is intended for studies of ionospheric space weather. The other satellites is called YUSAT or Yushan,which means jade mountain) and was built by New Taipei-based MoGaMe Mobile Entertainment to monitor marine activities. Signals from both satellites have been detected by stations outside of Taiwan but only IDEASSat has been received by the home ground station: National Central University successfully received and decoded the “IDEASSAT” CubeSat downlink signal. “YUSAT” CubeSat is still in progress. – National Space Organization

The “YUSAT (aka Yushan) ” and “IDEASSAT (aka Flying Squirrel)” CubeSats were successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), in Florida, the United States, at 11:00 pm of January 24, 2021, Taiwan time. The ground receiving station of National Central University (NCU) successfully received the IDEASSAT CubeSat downlink signal at 9:00 pm on February 1st, and successfully decoded the first beacon message at 11:34 pm.

After YUSAT and IDEASSAT CubeSats were transported to CCSFS in Florida, U.S., in December of last year, various integration and test (I&T) and inspection tasks as well as joint interface tests with the Falcon 9 rocket at the launch site have been performed. At 11:00 pm in the evening on January 24th, they were carried by the Falcon 9 rocket and launched into space. About 59 minutes after the rocket launch, the two satellites began to separate from the rocket. The separated satellites are orbiting the earth with the altitude of about 525 kilometers, with the period about 96 minutes, and at an inclination of about 97.5 degrees. YUSAT and IDEASSAT would be passing and communicating with the ground stations in Taiwan 1 to 2 times between 8 and 10 o’clock in the morning and evening, respectively.

In the first few days, neither the YUSAT ground station of National Space Organization (NSPO) of National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) nor the IDEASSAT ground station of NCU received signals from two CubeSats, respectively. However, there were some good news about the transmitted signals from the two CubeSats received by the foreign stations fortunately, because these amateur radio stations around the world can cooperate each other for receiving satellite signals. Based on the received and decoded signals from them, both satellites are confirmed to be alive and continuously orbiting around the Earth.

More about the projects:

The Ionospheric Dynamics Explorer and Attitude Subsystem Satellite (IDEASSat). Photo credits: National Space Organization of Taiwan

** Turkey’s ASELSAT CubeSat reaches orbit via SpaceX Falcon 9 Rideshare mission. The spacecraft was developed by Turkey’s ASELSAN military technology company in partnership with Istanbul Technical University. Statement about ASELSAT 3U Cube Satellite from SSB – Aroged

Developed with domestic facilities X-Band Transmitter, By integrating the U3 size cube satellite with high resolution camera The images obtained will be transmitted to the ground station. Also located on the cube satellite radiation dosimeter Thanks to this, radiation information in the low orbit environment will be recorded for feedback for design improvements.

More at

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

ANS-017 AMSAT News Service Weekly News Bulletin – ANS –

  • RadFxSat-2 Launch Delayed Until Sunday, January 17, 2021
  • November/December 2020 AMSAT Journal Now Online
  • UVSQsat Scheduled for January 21, 2021 Launch
  • Seven US Schools Moved Forward in ARISS Selection Process
  • CubeSat to Test Harnessing Earth’s Magnetic Field for Propulsion
  • CHESS CubeSat Constellation to Carry FUNcube Transponders
  • International Amateur Radio Union Preparing for WRC-23
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

ANS-024 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins – ANS –

  • Update on the Status of RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E
  • UVSQ-SAT Launch Now January 24th
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for January 21, 2021
  • Service to be Terminated
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

ANS-028 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin – ANS –

  • RadFxSat-2 Signals Detected, AMSAT Engineering Continues to Assess Status

ANS-031 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin – ANS –

  • RadFxSat-2 Update – (January 29, 2021)
  • RadFxSat-2 Signals Detected, AMSAT Engineering Continues to Assess Status (January 28, 2021)
  • ARISS Operations Situation
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for January 28, 2021
  • QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo to Include Speaker Track on Amateur Radio Satellites
  • Ham Radio’s SuitSat Returns in Short Horror Film
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over
  • Iodine Thruster Could Slow Space Junk Accumulation

ANS-038 AMSAT Weekly News Bulletin – ANS –

  • RadFxSat-2/Fox-1E Is Designated AMSAT-OSCAR 109 (AO-109)
  • SN9 Starship Test Launch: Otherwise successful test ends in a fireball
  • CAPE-3 Updates and iGate Request
  • First QO-100 satellite contact from Indonesia
  • ARISS Call for Proposals: Contacts for January to June 2022
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for February 4, 2021
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Payload Profile #1: Launch Demo 2 | Virgin Orbit

As our first ever batch of customers begin to downlink data from their satellites, let’s take a deeper dive into each of the missions that flew onboard LauncherOne this month. First up are CACTUS-1, ExoCube, and CAPE-3. To learn more about our Launch Demo 2 mission, visit our website:

** Payload Profile #2: Launch Demo 2 | Virgin Orbit

From scientific experiments to tech demonstrations, we’re taking a closer look at each of the missions that flew to space onboard #LaunchDemo2. This week, the spotlight is on MITEE-1, PICS and PolarCub.

** Payload Deep Dive #3: Launch Demo 2 | Virgin Orbit

From scientific experiments to tech demonstrations, we’re taking a closer look at each of the missions that flew to space onboard #LaunchDemo2​. Tune in to our last of three Payload Profiles learn a bit more about Q-Pace, RadFXSat-2, and TechEdSat-7. 

** Into a Shoebox: The Incredible Journey of RainCube and Tempest-D – NASA JPL (See also A Pioneering NASA Mini Weather Satellite Ends Its Mission – NASA JPL)

On June 25, 2018, RainCube and Tempest-D were deployed from the International Space Station. Both are 6U CubeSats developed by NASA-JPL as instrument technology demonstrations. RainCube implemented the first precipitation radar in a CubeSat and Tempest-D tested the performance of a CubeSat microwave radiometer to observe precipitation and clouds. Together, they became the first CubeSats to measure precipitation from space, with Raincube providing detailed vertical structure information and Tempest-D providing coarse vertical and detailed horizontal structure.

** Navigating SmallSat Development: Where to Begin and What to Expect | NASA – Speaker: Dr. Charles D. Norton, NASA Headquarters / Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CalTech. Presentation slides (pdf)

** NASA and Smallsat Cost Estimation Overview and Model Tools | NASA – Speaker: Michael Saing, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology – Presentation slides (pdf)

** Natalya Bailey: Rocket Engines and Electric Spacecraft Propulsion | Lex Fridman Podcast #157

Natalya Bailey is a rocket propulsion engineer from MIT and now CTO of Accion Systems.

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Jan.14.2021

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

** Ten university student-built CubeSats on Virgin Orbit‘s upcoming LauncherOne flight. Several of the projects are described below. This Virgin Orbit PR includes the manifest: Announcing the Window for Launch Demo 2 | Virgin Orbit – Includes manifest

9 CubeSat missions comprising 10 total spacecraft are set to fly on LauncherOne during Launch Demo 2, which will also mark the 20th mission in NASA’s Educational Launch of NanoSatellites (ELaNa XX) series. NASA is using small satellites, including CubeSats, to advance exploration, demonstrate emerging technologies, and conduct scientific research and educational investigations. Nearly each payload on this flight was fully designed and built by universities across the US.

See also

** Cal Poly’s ExoCube-2 on LauncherOne. The 3U CubeSat built by students carries a

… spectrometer as its payload, made to analyze particle densities in the exosphere which can, in turn, show how geomagnetic storms affect the atmosphere. This data is then used to improve atmospheric models.

ExoCube-2 at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Credits: Cal Poly

More at:

** Over 250 students at Univ. of Michigan participated in the building of the  MiTEE-1  (Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment-1). The CubeSat is on LauncherOne. Pioneering a way to keep very small satellites in orbit | University of Michigan News

The team is studying the idea of tethering two cell phone-sized small satellites with a wire 10 to 30 meters long that is able to drive current in either direction using power from solar panels and closing the electrical circuit through the Earth’s ionosphere. When a wire conducts a current in a magnetic field, that magnetic field exerts a force on the wire. The team plans to use the force from the Earth’s magnetic field to climb higher in orbit, compensating for the drag of the atmosphere.

The first experiments to test the idea will be on a CubeSat satellite called MiTEE-1: The Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment-1. The version being launched was designed and built by more than 250 students, over a course of six years. They were mentored by engineers and technicians of the U-M Space Physics Research Laboratory. The version launching now will have a deployable rigid boom, one meter long, between one satellite the size of a bread box and another the size of a large smartphone. It will measure how much current can be drawn from the ionosphere under different conditions.

** Brigham Young University students built the two Passive Inspection CubeSats (PICs) that will demonstrate in-space smallsat inspection operations after reaching space on Virgin Orbit LauncherOne flight. BYU students launch an idea into space with help from NASA – The Daily Universe

The Passive Inspection CubeSat is a 10 cm cube with cell phone-like cameras on all six faces. After the vehicle launches and reaches space, the two CubeSats are deployed in a Pez-dispenser fashion. Each CubeSat then immediately starts taking pictures of the spacecraft, the other CubeSat, earth and anything else near the satellite. Because there are cameras on each face of the cube, the data will provide a virtual environment, as if those viewing it are in space themselves.

** MIR-SAT1 (Mauritius Imagery and Radio – Satellite 1) to be first Mauritius satellite: 2020 in Review – Mauritius Space Program – Space in Africa

Mauritius was the winner of the 3rd round UNOOSA/JAXA KiboCube Programme in 2018 whereby Mauritius was awarded (by JAXA) the opportunity to build and deploy, for the first time in its history, a 1U Cube Satellite through the International Space Station (ISS). The MIR-SAT1 will be sent by JAXA to the International Space Station (ISS) and deployed from the Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) “KiboCUBE”.

The first 1U Mauritian nanosatellite, MIR-SAT1 (Mauritius Imagery and Radio – Satellite 1) was designed by a team of Mauritian Engineers and an experienced Radio Amateur from the Mauritius Amateur Radio Society in collaboration with experts from AAC-Clyde Space UK.

The testing and building of the satellite (MIR-SAT1) was carried out by the MRIC’s collaborating partner, AAC-ClydeSpace in Glasgow and was completed in November 2020. JAXA started the 3rd Safety Assessment review, which will ensure that the cubesat is compliant with all the requirements of KiboCube Program. Further to the successful completion of this review, the MIR-SAT1 will be shipped to JAXA from Glasgow. It is expected that the Satellite will be at JAXA in January 2021. JAXA will then launch the satellite to the ISS via the launcher SpaceX-22 and eventually deploy it space by May/June 2021. The MRIC will be the operator of the satellite, and a state-of-the-art ground control station is currently being set up for this purpose.

See also Mauritius to Launch its First CubeSat in 2021 – ARRL.

**  Students at Univ. of Georgia built CubeSat Spectral Ocean Color (SPOC), recently deployed from the International Space Station. University of Georgia Students Launch CubeSat with NASA | NASA

Students and faculty from the University of Georgia, Athens, were thrilled to see their hard work on the CubeSat Spectral Ocean Color (SPOC) pay off when it deployed from the International Space Station recently.

SPOC, developed through the NASA Undergraduate Student Instrument Project, launched to the space station aboard a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket October 2, 2020, from Wallops along with nearly 8,000 pounds of cargo and science investigations. The goal of SPOC is to monitor the health of coastal ecosystem from space. The cubesat, about the size of a loaf of bread, includes an advanced optic system that can zoom in on coastal areas to detect chemical composition and physical characteristics on ocean and wetland surfaces.

** Brown University’s student-built EQUiSat, launched in 2018, reentered last December: 14,000 loops around the Earth later, Brown student satellite ends its mission | Brown University

The satellite was originally expected to stay in orbit for a maximum of two years, but a particularly mild solar cycle kept it aloft a bit longer. Rick Fleeter, an adjunct professor of engineering who is adviser to BSE, says the fact that EQUiSat’s systems kept functioning for its entire flight is a tribute to the students who designed, built and operated it.

“EQUiSat is just an assembly of parts — the success and the learning were accomplished by the ingenuity, hard work and dedication of a diverse team of Brown students past and present,” Fleeter said. “That’s what I will remember about it — the great satisfaction of having been a part of their team.”

To keep its systems running, the satellite’s custom-made solar array powered a set of LiFePO batteries, which were part of its mission objective. This type of battery had never flown in space before, so NASA was interested to see how they’d perform in an environment that goes from -250 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade to 250 degrees in the sun. Those batteries, along with the rest of the EQUiSat’s systems, performed about as well as anyone could have expected.

See also this earlier report on the project: After 7 years of work, Brown’s student satellite is cleared for NASA launch | Brown University – Mar.15.2018

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

ANS-003 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins for Jan. 3 – ANS –

  • 2021 Promises To Be A “Big” Year in Space
  • Changes to AMSAT News Service Bulletins Distribution
  • New AMSAT Contact Information
  • FO-29 operation schedule for Jan. – Feb. 2021
  • AMSAT Awards Update
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for January 1, 2021
  • New Mail System Archives Changes
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for December 31, 2020
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

ANS-0103 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins for Jan. 10, 2021 – ANS:

  • Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne Launch Demo 2 is go for launch
  • Cargo Dragon to Return to Earth from ISS
  • Portable QO-100 station activated on Antarctic cruise
  • AMSAT-SM releases a satellite memory set for the ICOM IC-705
  • AMSAT Ambassador Activities
  • AMSAT – Changes in Orbital Elements
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

** General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** CubeSat: Little Satellite, Big Deal : Short Wave – NPR

** History of the Wolverine CubeSat Team – Simmons COSPAR-K 2021 (Sydney, Australia)

** Understanding Radio Communications – Lecture 11: Receiving a satellite – Tutorial for teacher

This is the last in a series of 6 videos designed to accompany the “Understanding Radio Communications – using SDRs” teaching materials. It supports the lecture/lab work presented in lecture 11 of the 11 one hour sessions (Receiving a satellite) You can find out more and register to download the materials free of charge at this link:

** Getting Started with Amateur Radio Satellites – Tom Schuessler N5HYP

** Q&A – Getting Started with Amateur Radio Satellites – Tom Schuessler N5HYP

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Dec.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):

** Two Brigham Young University student Cubesats set to go to orbit on Virgin Orbit LauncherOne flight this month: How BYU’s work with NASA will allow satellites to take selfies in space – Deseret News

For the last five years, students at the BYU College of Engineering have been dreaming up, designing and building two tiny satellites. And after a two-year delay in the launch of NASA’s ELaNa 20 mission, the cube-like modules are finally ready to head to space.

The “CubeSats” have cameras attached to each of their six sides and are designed to take photos of other satellites, giving NASA a cheap method of visually examining the exteriors of spacecraft.

“The idea is you carry up one of these sort of selfie cameras,” said David Long, an engineering professor at BYU, “and when you needed to get a picture of your spacecraft — it is very inexpensive; it’s disposable — you kind of toss it out the window, conceptually, you know, you just deploy it, and it takes pictures of your main spacecraft. And then it just drifts off into space.”

BYU Passive Inspection CubeSat. Credits: BYU PICS

See also:

** Dept. of Education’s CTE Mission: CubeSat competition announces selection of 5 finalists: U.S. Department of Education announces five finalists in national challenge

[On Dec.2], the U.S. Department of Education announced the five finalists in CTE Mission: CubeSat, a national challenge to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond. Finalists will each receive $5,000 and in-kind prizes that they may use to build CubeSat (cube satellite) prototypes in the second phase of the challenge.

Congratulations to the finalists:

    • Anderson Clark Magnet High School (La Crescenta, California) is studying whether local encampments are in high-risk wildfire areas, with the goal of helping the local fire department save lives of people without housing.
    • Freeport High School (Freeport, New York) is measuring Earth’s surface temperature to study the differences in heat absorption and retention between urban and rural areas.
    • Mooresville High School (Mooresville, North Carolina) is measuring the effect of their town’s population growth on air quality, land use, and temperature.
    • Opelika High School (Opelika, Alabama) is collaborating with Columbus High School and Northside High School (Columbus, Georgia). The team plans to collect performance data for a new type of core material used in NASA-grade fluxgate magnetometers, which are used to study Earth’s changing magnetic field.
    • Princeton High School (Princeton, New Jersey) is collaborating with Montgomery High School (Skillman, New Jersey). The team wants to optimize space missions by examining topics such as atmospheric pressure density or habitable planetary environments.

The finalists will now begin work on the second phase of the program:

During Phase 2, which runs from January to May 2021, the finalists will have access to expert mentorship and additional virtual resources as they build CubeSat prototypes and plan flight events to launch their prototypes. The Department understands that due to current conditions, schools will need flexibility to safely collaborate when building and launching prototypes.

The prizes include development kits and expert mentorship donated to the Department from Arduino, Blue Origin, Chevron, EnduroSat, LEGO Education,, MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, and XinaBox.

** MIT DeMi testing deformable mirror for hi-res telescope applications: Mini-satellite maker – MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Inside the small probe, named DeMi, was a deformable mirror payload that Cahoy and her students designed, along with a miniature telescope and laser test source. DeMi’s mirror corrects the positioning of either the test laser or a star seen by the telescope. On future missions, these mirrors could be used to produce sharper images of distant stars and exoplanets. Showing the mirror can operate successfully in space is also proof that “nanosatellites” like DeMi can serve as nimble, affordable technology stepping-stones in the search for Earth-like planets beyond our solar system.

See also

** The Philippines’ first student-built CubeSat Maya-1 ends two year mission:

Maya-1, the country’s first cube satellite, has completed its mission and flew back to the Earth’s atmosphere after two years.

“Initially, the satellite was expected to stay in orbit for less than a year only, but it had stayed in orbit for about two years and four months,” said Adrian Salces, one of the Filipino graduate students who developed Maya-1, as it returned last Nov. 23.

Maya-1, along with Bhutan-1 of Bhutan and UiTMSAT-1 of Malaysia, are produced under the auspices of the second generation of the Joint Global Multi-Nation BIRDS Satellite Project or the  BIRDS-2 Project of the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Japan.

Maya-1, a 1U cube satellite (CubeSat) in Japan, was deployed through the Japanese Experimental Module Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) in the “Kibo” module – the same module used to deploy Diwata-1.

The CubeSat is under the Development of Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite (PHL-Microsat) program, a research program jointly implemented by the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD) and the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST-ASTI) in partnership with Kyutech in Japan.

** Students at University of Louisiana at Lafayette built CAPE-3 CubeSat that will ride on Virgin Orbit LauncherOne flight this month. CAPE-3 will m: Eagles to Land First Student Project on Moon to Snap Selfie of Lunar Landing | Aviation Pros

Once the University’s CAPE-3 satellite arrives in space, a spring-loaded mechanism will eject it 225 miles above the Earth’s surface. The small satellite – about 10 centimeters square – will circle the globe about every 90 minutes at 17,000 miles per hour.

Along the way, the satellite will dredge the atmosphere for radiation levels with two instruments – a plastic prototype chip about the size of a pencil eraser and a small Geiger counter.

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

ANS-313 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin for Nov.19

  • Australian Space Communications Station To Feature Optical Data Transfer
  • WB4APR Seeking high power VHF stations for Leonids Meteor Shower
  • AMSAT Italia and Italian Space Agency ISS STEAM agreement
  • ORI sponsors the M17 VOCODER and hardware development
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for November ##, 2020
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over
  • Tips for the New Operator – Mobile Apps

ANS-327 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins for Nov. 22

  • SpaceX Dragon Capsule Ferries Four Radio Amateurs to the ISS
  • September/October Issue Of The AMSAT Journal Is Now Available
  • New Launch Date for EASAT-2 and Hades Satellites
  • Arecibo Observatory Faces Demolition After Cable Failures
  • DX Portable Operation Planned From Thailand Grid NK99
  • Human Error Blamed For Vega Launch Failure
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for November 19
  • Moscow Aviation Institute Plans SSTV Event from ISS
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

ANS-334 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins for Nov. 29

  • Happy 7th Birthday AMSAT-OSCAR 73 (FUNcube-1)
  • Neutron-1 Signals Received
  • GridMaster Awards #20-#25 Issued
  • Changes to the AMSAT TLE Distribution for November 26th
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

ANS-341 AMSAT New Service Weekly Bulletin for Dec. 6

  • Launch Window for AMSAT’s RadFxSat-2/Fox-1E Opens December 19, 2020
  • FoxTelem 1.09 Released
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for December 2020
  • FO-29 operation schedule for December 2020 and January 2021
  • IARU Coordinates Frequencies for Three Satellites in November
  • Orbital Mechanics for Dummies
  • Brandmeister DMR Network Announces Password Implementation
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Adler-1 cubesat – hunting for bullets in the dark – Austrian Space Forum (OeWF)

** Rhodes College Cubesat Project. November 6, 2020 Meeting of the Memphis Astronomical Society.

** Operating the AMSAT CubeSatSim


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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Nov.12.2020

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

** Teachers In Space‘s Serenity educational CubeSat is ready to go to orbit on the first flight of the Firefly Alpha orbital rocket. The launch is currently planned ro  lift off later this year from Vandenberg AFB in California. Teachers in Space Launch Serenity Satellite – Teachers In Space, Inc.

Serenity will contain several experiments including Gloversville School Districts radiation experiment and Villanova University’s Blockchain technology experiment.

The satellite developed by Teachers in Space is a pioneer CubeSat (, that will provide low cost opportunities to test educational experiments in space. Teachers in space has previously guided high schools and other academic institutions in developing and flying experiments sub-orbitally with high altitude balloons, stratospheric gliders and rockets. This will be the first orbital satellite mission for TIS.

The Serenity CubeSat. Credits: Teachers in Space

The Serenity satellite will be carrying a suite of data sensors and a camera that will be sending data back to Earth through the use of HAM radio signals. There will be several ground stations connecting with the satellite during its orbital period. These ground stations will be collecting data and pictures sent back down to Earth.

How to communicate with Serenity. The best option is to connect with a local HAM radio club. They may have the equipment already set up to track satellites. If they do not, they will be able to assist you in finding one that does.

More about the VIlianova blockchain networking experiment on the Serenity spacecraft: The First Ethereum Network-Blockchain Satellite From Villanova University Set For Orbit – SatNews

This experiment will prove that blockchain can allow two satellites to reliably complete data transactions without communicating with a ground station to supervise these inter-satellite exchanges. The satellite will remain in LEO for approximately 30 days and controlled blockchain experiments will take place during the first 15 days the satellite is on-orbit.

Professor Sudler noted that the blockchain provides a trusted and immutable means of tracking these exchanges between satellites that may belong to different companies or even different countries.

Villanova researchers will grant 10 non-researchers with experience using blockchains with access to the onboard blockchain for the remainder of the flight for measuring transaction performance under heavier traffic loads. While the satellite is on-orbit, the latter half of the test period will be dedicated to open access from Villanova to perform test transactions between the ground station and the satellite.

The transaction data will be test files (text and images of various file sizes) that will create various loads on the blockchain. These transactions will also be allowed to interact with Ethereum smart contracts (programs that can automatically trigger a new transaction when a specific condition is met). All transactions are permanently recorded on the blockchain ledger.

** Tel Aviv University TAU-SAT1 CubeSat to go to ISS on NG Cygnus cargo resupply mission in early 2021: Tel Aviv University aims to launch shoebox-size satellite next year | The Times of Israel

“[…] TAU-SAT1 is the first nanosatellite designed, built and tested independently in academia in Israel.”

The TAU-SAT1 was created, developed, assembled, and tested at the new Nanosatellite Center in Tel Aviv, an interdisciplinary venture of the Faculties of Engineering and Exact Sciences and the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences of the university.

The primary goal of the mission is to measure space radiation:

The satellite will conduct several experiments while in orbit, including measuring cosmic radiation in space.

“We know that that there are high-energy particles moving through space that originate from cosmic radiation,” said Meir Ariel, director of the university’s Nanosatellite Center. “Our scientific task is to monitor this radiation, and to measure the flux of these particles and their products.

To communicate with the spacecraft, a satellite station was built on the roof of the university’s engineering building.

Students were a part of the team that developed the satellite:

The Tel Aviv University nanosatellite was built and tested with the help of a team of students and researchers, which built all of the infrastructure including cleanrooms, various testing facilities such as the thermal vacuum chamber, and the rooftop receiving and transmission station.

** Queensborough Community College in Bayside, NY receives NASA grant for CubeSat project:

The college is the recipient of a NASA MUREP MISTC-2 (Minority University Research and Education Project — Innovations in Space Technology Curriculum-Group 2). The grant entitled, “Using Technology to Engage and Inspire Students to Explore (SpaceTechEngine),” was funded in the amount of $410,574 for two years. 

Queensborough is partnering on the grant with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Mission Engineering and Systems Analysis (MESA) Division, the Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates (ASTRA), and City College of New York (CUNY) to capitalize on NASA’s ability to inspire both students and the public. 

Students will work on the Plasma Enhancements in The Ionosphere-Thermosphere Satellite (petitSat), a NASA funded CubeSat mission to be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2021. 

The petitSat Principal Investigator (PI) is NASA scientist Jeffrey Klenzing. Students will investigate both space weather effects on the ionosphere, which reflects and modifies radio waves used for communication and navigation; and simulate interacting with a CubeSat for preliminary assembly, integration and testing (AI&T).

** Brigham Young students built the Passive Inspection CubeSat (PICS), which is to launch this year, along with nine other NASA sponsored CubeSats, on a Virgin Orbit LauncherOne rocket.: BYU partnering with NASA to send a ‘spacecraft selfie cam’ into space on official mission –

After years of engineering, testing and coordinating with engineers from NASA’s Launch Services Program, Brigham Young University students have created a cube satellite that will launch into space on an official NASA mission later this year.

The 10-centimeter CubeSat, which includes contributions from more than 60 students over a five-year period, is outfitted with cameras on all six sides and will make it possible to inexpensively detect damage on the exterior of a spacecraft that cannot be seen in other ways.

“It’s a satellite that is designed to take pictures of another satellite,” said BYU engineering professor David Long. “In other words, it’s a spacecraft selfie cam.”

Passive Inspection CubeSat (PICS) at Brigham Young Univ. Credits: BYU Spacecraft Group

See also This BYU camera is launching into orbit to take photos of NASA spacecraft |

Here is a video about the project:

BYU engineers are preparing to launch a CubeSat that will float in space and take images of a spacecraft in orbit and then transmit those images back to Earth. The 10-centimeter CubeSat, outfitted with cameras on all six sides, works like a spacecraft “selfie cam” and will make it possible to inexpensively see the exterior of a spacecraft and detect damage that can’t be seen in other ways. The team received support and sponsorship from NASA’s Launch Services Program as well as from BYU’s Fulton College of Engineering for the mission that is expected to launch in late 2020.

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

ANS-306 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin

  • Neutron-1 Scheduled for Deployment on November 5th
  • Upcoming Amateur Satellite Launches
  • EO-88 Distance Record Set
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

ANS-313 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin

  • Neutron1 Launched from the ISS
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for November 2020
  • AMSAT GridMaster Award
  • IARU Coordinates Frequencies for Six Satellites in October
  • ARISS Team Attends ISS National Lab Education Summit
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Two new  introductory books on amateur satellite radio. The first is from the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL):

You can make contacts through amateur radio satellites, and even with the International Space Station, using equipment you probably own right now! All it takes is the right information, which you ll find in Amateur Radio Satellites for Beginners. There are dozens of spacecraft in orbit just waiting for your signals, and more are being launched every year. This book is your guide to a whole new world of operating enjoyment. Inside you will: Be able to locate satellites and determine when they will be available in orbit. Gain tips for building your own satellite station even if it s just a dual-band FM transceiver and a mobile antenna. Find a simple step-by-step guide to making your first contacts. Discover satellite antenna projects you can build at home. Amateur Radio Satellites for Beginners will introduce you to new experiences that you may have thought were out of your reach. Start reading and discover how easy it can be!

Amsats and Hamsats provides a step by step guide to how you can communicate through amateur radio satellites and how to receive signals from other small satellites and ‘weather’ satellites. The book gets right into the techniques you will need for working amateur radio stations through amateur radio satellites, then moves on to listening, or watching, signals from other satellites. There are chapters answering questions like, ‘how do satellites stay in orbit’ and ‘why are they so expensive to launch?’ Followed by sections about the history of amateur radio satellites, the mathematics governing orbits, TLE files, different types of satellite and their orbits. It covers the equipment you need, to track and use the amateur satellites and some of the satellite tracking software that is available. There are detailed sections covering transponders, satellite bands, feeders, masthead preamplifiers, antenna systems and automated rotator control. Plus chapters on the FUNcube Satellites, Weather Satellites and even the International Space Station. Amsats and Hamsats provides the ultimate guide to operating satellites and how they work. Its 368 pages are a great value guide to this stimulating and challenging area of amateur radio activity. Whether you want to get started or you are already an experienced operator you will find something of value in these pages.

** ADLER-1 cubesat – hunting for bullets in the dark

Space is a common good, just like the ocean 🌊 and the atmosphere 🌠. And as such it is subject for pollution. It is time to get more in-orbit data on this problem. With ADLER-1 cubesat we will find the “fast bullets in the dark”. How will this work? Have a look at our video ⤵️

** MicroGEO Satellites, Software-defined Radio and Getting the World OnlineConstellations Podcast – YouTube

** Jeff Greason discusses concepts for using space plasma for propulsion. Near the end of the video, he talks about the use of smallsats to test implementations of such systems. The Plasma Magnet, for example, has been extensively tested on the ground and now needs to be proven in space. The Plasma Magnet NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts  – Phase I Final Report – John Slough, Univ. of Washington (pdf).

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