Category Archives: Amateur/Student Satellite

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – July.9.2019

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

** Binar CubeSat built by Curtin University team of students and staff to be deployed from the ISS: Curtin to test ‘mini’ satellite in orbit with European Space Agency –  Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia

Professor Bland, from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said a Curtin team of 12 staff and student engineers developed the miniaturised satellite.

“The Curtin team has managed to put all the systems required to operate the satellite, including the power, computer, steering and communications, on a single eight-layer printed circuit board, which at 10cm by 10cm by 2.5cm is about the size of a rather small sandwich,” Professor Bland said.

“Having everything on a single circuit board means there is more room for what the satellite is carrying, which in this case will be a camera that will capture beautiful images of Australia taken from orbit.”

Binar Cubesat Program
A diagram of the CubeSat in development in the Binar Cubesat Program at Curing University.

** Three Virginia CubeSat Constellation CubeSats built by undergrads were deployed from the ISS on July 3rd:

Three Virginia university satellites were deployed into nearly simultaneous orbit from the International Space Station via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer at 10:50 a.m. EDT this morning. The Virginia CubeSat Constellation mission is a collaborative project of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and four of its member universities: Old Dominion University (ODU), Virginia Tech (VT), University of Virginia (UVA), and Hampton University (HU). The three nano-satellites, each about 4 inches cubed and weighing approximately 3 pounds, have been developed and instrumented (one each at ODU, VT and UVA) to obtain measurements of atmospheric properties and quantify atmospheric density with respect to orbital decay.

Deployment of three Virginia CubeSat Constellation satellites from the ISS. Photo credits: Virginia Space Grant Consortium

Data collected will ultimately contribute to the scientific knowledge base around orbital decay and will be widely shared. Ground stations at UVA, ODU and Virginia Tech will now begin making contact with their satellites. Data analysis will take place using an analytical tool being developed by students from Hampton University’s Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Department.

“To know that all three satellites are now in orbit is extremely gratifying. Kudos to the students who have worked hard and gained immeasurable knowledge and experience from participating in this student-led mission and to the faculty who have advised them,” said Mary Sandy, Virginia Space Grant director and mission principal investigator. “Achieving Earth orbit is a huge mission milestone. These are the first student-developed satellites in orbit for all three of the universities.”

More than 150 undergraduate students across many disciplines at the participating universities have worked on the mission for the past three years under the guidance of faculty advisors

** KRAKsat Polish student CubeSat also deployed from ISS: ISS On-Orbit Status Report – July.3.2019

KRAKsat is a project focused on sending scientific satellite into space, made by students of University of Science and Technology and Jagiellonian University. Not only it is one of the first Cubesat type satellites in Poland but also the first satellite in the world which uses magnetic liquid, called ferrofluid, for orientation control.

A CubeSat from the Polish company SatRevolution was also deployed from the ISS along with KRAKsat. Find updates on the two projects at

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-188 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • 2019 AMSAT Board of Directors Election Update
  • Candidates for the AMSAT Board of Directors Announced
  • Frank Karnauskas, N1UW Appointed as AMSAT VP for Development
  • First Ever Contact via Moon Orbiting Transponder on LO-94
  • First Call for Papers for the 50th Anniversary AMSAT Symposium
  • Take W3ZM on the Road!
  • ARISS-International Delegates Meet in Montreal
  • JAISAT-1 telemetry beacon downlink on 435.325 MHz FM 4k8 GMSK
  • Additional Amateur Radio Payloads to Launch with JAISAT-1
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for July
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Shoot for the Moon:
The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – June.30.2019

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

** Florida high school student satellite, StangSat, reaches orbit via the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch last week. Students at Merritt Island High School (MIHS) designed and built the CubeSat. A local TV news report: High-schoolers sent cube satellite into space aboard Falcon Heavy – WOFL

More at

MIHS students working on StangSat
“Merritt Island High School students are photographed at the Kennedy Space Center with StangSat – a cube satellite (CubeSat) that was built and developed by students at the school. StangSat [launched] on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as part of the Department of Defense Space Test Program-2 mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center… Credits: NASA/Shaun Daly”
** Georgia Tech’s Prox-1 with LightSail-2 was successfully put into orbit by the Falcon Heavy as well. Prox-1 was built by Georgia Tech students with funding from the University Nanosat Program (UNP) and LightSail-2 was built by a team led by Ecliptic Enterprises and funded by the Planetary Society.

The sail’s cubesat will be ejected from Prox-1 this week:

LightSail 2 team members will soon converge at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California, where the spacecraft’s mission control is located. Once LightSail 2 is released from Prox-1 on 2 July, the team will spend several days checking out the CubeSat’s systems before commanding its dual-sided solar panels to deploy. Following that, the spacecraft’s solar sails will be deployed, roughly 2 weeks in total from launch day.

** Students at Cal State Poly at San Luis Obispo were involved closely with LightSail-2 and with LEO (Launch Environment Observer) cubesat also on board the FH:

The LightSail-2 mission will rely on the ground station at CalPoly SLO.

** Students at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi are building MYSAT-2, with the support of Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), for launch on a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft in 2020:  Khalifa University’s MYSAT-2 CUbeSat completes critical design review milestone – ZAWYA

Designed and built by a team of nine students pursuing a Master’s degree with Space Systems and Technology Concentration, MYSAT-2 features significant upgrades from MYSAT-1. Its primary mission is to enable students to design, implement, and test new Attitude Determination and Control (ADC) Algorithms, developed by the Khalifa University students. The algorithms help determine a CubeSat’s orientation in space, and are estimated to be 15 to 20 percent more power-efficient, in comparison with similar algorithms implemented on other spacecrafts. If successful, the new algorithms will establish the UAE as a contributor to the global space industry.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-181 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AO-85 Update: Do Not Access While in Eclipse
  • Candidates for the AMSAT Board of Directors Announced
  • PSAT Successfully Launched on Falcon Heavy STP-2
  • Update: PSAT2 is coming to Northern Latitudes!
  • Updated TLE’s and Analysis Tools for BIRDS-3
  • Chinese Lunar Satellite DSLWP-B and the July 2 Solar Eclipse
  • Thailand JAISAT-1 Satellite to Launch on July 5, 2019
  • ARISS International Delegates Meet in Montreal
  • European Astro Pi Challenge Winners Announced
  • New Release of G0KLA Tracker
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

See also Amateur radio satellites launch on SpaceX STP-2 mission | AMSAT-UK

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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Moon Rush: The New Space Race

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – June.23.2019

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

TechDemoSat-1 sail deployed May 2019
TechDemoSat-1 drag sail deployed May 2019. The sail, developed at Cranfield University, will reduce the time for the satellite to de-orbit.

** Cranfield University team’s Icarus-1 drag sail successfully deployed on Surrey Satellite’s TechDemoSat-1 smallsat in orbit back in May: TechDemoSat-1 on-board camera captures drag sail deployment | SSTL

TechDemoSat-1, a 150 kg in-orbit technology demonstration small satellite mission, validated 8 innovative UK spacecraft instruments and software payloads and also acquired ocean wind speed datasets using GNSS reflectometry.

The deployed sail measures approximately 6.7 m2 and is designed to significantly increase the spacecraft’s rate of orbital decay, in compliance with current Space Debris Mitigation best practice and guidelines. 

Stephen Hobbs, Head of Cranfield University’s Space Group, commented “At Cranfield we are delighted to see our Icarus de-orbit technology demonstrated successfully in orbit – again.  With the Icarus sails now deployed on both TechDemoSat-1 and Carbonite-1, SSTL and Cranfield have demonstrated clear leadership in this technology.  We hope to see many more satellites following TechDemoSat-1’s example to keep space clear of debris.  It’s been great to work with SSTL on this mission.”

The Icarus-1 drag sail consists of a thin aluminium frame fitted around one of the external panels of the spacecraft in which four trapezoidal Kapton sails and booms are stowed and restrained by a cord.  Deployment is achieved by activating cord-cutter actuators, allowing the stored energy in the spring hinges to unfold the booms and the sail. 

TechDemoSat-1
TechDemoSat-1 built by Surrey Satellite Systems, Ltd.

** The Planetary Society’s LightSail-2 to launch on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy STP-2 mission. The sail follows several previous solar sail projects (Japan’s IKAROS 2010 was the first to demonstrate sunlight driven propulsion) and aims to be the first of the Society’s sails to demonstrate net thrust. The sail will be released from the Georgia Tech Prox-1 carrier satellite (see below) about a week after the launch.

Follow progress with the mission at:

LightSail-2 in orbit
Artist’s depiction of LightSail-2 in orbit.

Resources:

LightSail-2 teleconference (transcript (pdf)) with

  • Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society
  • Bruce Betts, Chief Scientist and LightSail 2 Program Manager
  • David Spencer, LightSail 2 Project Manager and Associate Professor at Purdue University
  • Jennifer Vaughn, COO of The Planetary Society

** Georgia Tech’s Prox-1 smallsat was built by students and will be student-operated as well. The goal of the mission is to

… demonstrate proximity operations for space situational awareness, through the use of a low thrust propulsion system for orbital maneuvering, and visible and infrared imaging for reconnaissance. The Prox-1 mission is directly applicable to Air Force Space Command’s priority to develop and maintain complete knowledge of assets in the on-orbit environment.

Prox-1 will conduct rendezvous and proximity operations with an on-orbit “objective”: the expended launch vehicle that delivers Prox-1 to orbit. Through multiple circumnavigations of the objective while acquiring visible and infrared images, a three-dimensional model of the objective will be developed and material properties will be established. The orbit of the objective will be determined, and a time-history of the objective attitude will be acquired. As an extended mission goal, Prox-1 will conduct proximity operations with additional objects in the near-space environment. The primary mission duration is three months.

This animation is somewhat dated but shows the primary operational tasks of the mission:

See also The Future Is Small – Georgia Tech’s Research News – 2015

** Northwestern Univ. & Univ. of Illinois students work to get SpaceICE CubeSat ready for space after the project missed the first launch opportunity.

we are sending freeze-casting to Low Earth Orbit! At Northwestern, we are designing the experiment and payload, while UIUC (CubeSat Project) is building the satellite. This project is funded by NASA’s Office of Education through the Undergraduate Student Instrument Project. Our anticipated launch date is late 2018.

Once in orbit, we’ll collect image and temperature data while freezing aqueous suspensions of silver coated glass beads and salt water solutions. Whereas we were limited to freezing very quickly during our parabolic flight work, the CubeSat platform will allow us to test a range of freezing velocities.

Here is a history of the SpaceICE CubeSat project: Despite launch delay, NU undergrads plow ahead with redesign for NASA freeze-casting experiments | Medill Reports Chicago

Young scientists are racing to deliver by October a satellite payload of instruments to test freeze-casting — technology that could free space explorers from expensive, time-consuming deliveries of supplies from Earth.

The team of Northwestern University undergraduates building the innards for a small satellite called a “CubeSat” missed the launch window last year but are getting ready for another try.

“The sample container failed,” explains Kristen Scotti, a graduate student and mentor for SpaceICE, the initiative creating the CubeSat instrumentation to test freeze-casting for eventual manufacturing needs in space. Essentially, the glass containers for three sample suspensions were cracking, and anything less than airtight would jeopardize the freeze-casting process, dependent upon controlled temperatures and accurate readings.

** Several university teams win grants for Phase 1 of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s MagQuest, “a $1.2 million global open innovation challenge to advance how we measure Earth’s magnetic field” – NGA announces 10 winners in MagQuest Phase 1; launches $1 million Phase 2 – GeoSpatialWorld.net

MagQuest is designed to attract new ideas to increase the efficiency, reliability, and sustainability of geomagnetic data collection. With this open innovation challenge, NGA is inspiring solvers to apply their expertise to a wide range of potential solution areas. “From seafloor observatories to satellites, the breadth of ideas that emerged from Phase 1 of MagQuest is impressive and energizing,” said Richard Salman, Director of NGA’s Office of Geomatics. “We look forward to seeing the novel thinking and new technologies solvers will bring to Phase 2 of the challenge.” 

** Nepal and Sri Lanka now have their first satellites in orbit. The BIRDS 3 CubeSats were built in collaboration with Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology, whose BIRDS project is intended to help non-spacefaring developing countries get into orbit. (See posting here.) The Birds-3 satellites were deployed from the ISS into orbit last week. ISS crew member Nick Hague posted images of the deployments:

Yesterday I monitored the deployment of 4 small satellites (CubeSats), as they were ejected outside of the JEM laboratory on @Space_Station. The first set of CubeSats deployed were from Nepal, Sri Lanka & Japan, & the last CubeSat was from Singapore. https://t.co/3YIvo0P40B pic.twitter.com/DAKvl2mskj

— Nick Hague (@AstroHague) June 18, 2019

This video shows the Birds-3 deployment at around the 15:15 point:

Singapore’s Spooqf-1 cubesat is deployed at around 20:15. The Spooqf-1 is a project of “a multi-disciplinary group at the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore […] located on the National University of Singapore campus”. The “Quantum Nanosatellite” is testing entangled photon encryption communication technologies. SpooQy-1: Singapore’s experimental quantum CubeSat and its Kibo launch | SpaceTech Asia.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-174 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Candidates for the AMSAT Board of Directors Announced
  • Help Celebrate AMSAT’s 50th Anniversary – Take W3ZM on the Road!
  • Lightsail-2 Scheduled for Launch June 24 – Beacon on 437.025 MHz
  • NASA Lightsail-2 PR and TV Coverage
  • Listening to Lightsail-2 Co-passengers
  • AMSAT President Joe Spier Speaks With SIP Interns
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • How to Support AMSAT
  • Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V 21309
Outer Space Model Rocket for Kids and Adults, Science Building Kit
(1900 pieces)

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – June.16.2019

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

** Students in the Melbourne Space Program built ACRUZ-1 smallsat to launch on next Rocket Lab Electron rocket: ACRUX-1 headed to space on Rocket Lab’s next Electron rocket launch | Melbourne Space Program

ACRUX-1 was designed and built by engineering students, with the support of regulatory and business teams as well as professional development and marketing teams.

The Melbourne Space Program is a not-for-profit education organisation run entirely by volunteers – students from universities across Melbourne with a vision to launch the next generation of technology pioneers.

ACRUX-1
“ACRUX-1 is MSP’s inaugural cubesat and marks a significant crux for the organisation. Credit: Blake Fuller, MSP.”

See also What does mission success mean for ACRUX-1? | Melbourne Space Program

** Students at the University of North Texas College of Engineering design CubeSat solar panels with shape memory metal to maximize energy efficiency: Shape memory alloy technology leads to energy-efficient CubeSat – Univ. of Northern Texas

A team of University of North Texas College of Engineering seniors have created an energy efficient system for controlling solar panels on CubeSats using a nickel-titanium shape memory alloy.

Their design beat out teams from nine other universities to take first place at the CASMART 3rd Student Design Challenge in Germany. The international engineering competition for undergrad and graduate students asked teams to create innovative technologies using shape memory alloy.

The system designed by Ayers, and fellow Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering students Brittany Thurstin, Kelsa Adams, Jordan Barnes, Robert Boone and David Evers opens, closes and moves a CubeSat’s solar panels in space using just 20 watts of battery power. 

“For this project, we developed three separate shape memory alloy mechanisms for our CubeSat, named Penny, a retention mechanism that holds the solar panels in place during launch, a deployment mechanism that extends the solar panels into space and an actuator that moves the panels to follow the sun,” said Thurstin. “Applying a minimal amount of electricity provides all the mechanical energy needed to get the satellite up and running. We actually built a CubeSat to show just how the shape memory alloy system would work.”

** Israeli 17 year old wins entrepreneurial creativity contest award with his CubeSat designs:

Geffen Avraham, 17, of Hod Hasharon, Israel,

is making a next-generation CubeSat, a small satellite that can fit in the palm of your hand. His satellite parts will cost 10-100x less than usual, using smartphone technologies. By substantially lowering prices to affordable levels for schools and individuals, Geffen plans to democratize space.

Noteworthy: Geffen designed a CubeSat mission to one of Saturn’s moons, leading him to become the only high-schooler invited to an academic space conference in China. Last year, at 16, he left school to pursue his passion for building satellites at a local laboratory. He’s also currently working on a program to tell where (on Earth) a satellite picture was taken.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-167 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Field Day on the Satellites
  • Dollar-for-Dollar Match on your ARISS Donation Ends Monday!
  • AMSAT Operations Updates AO-85 Status / AO-92 Field Day Plans
  • AMSAT Engineering Slides From Ham-Com
  • BIRDS-3 Satellites Deploy From ISS on June 17th
  • IARU Region 1 Notes WRC-23 Proposals That Impact 144-146 MHz and 1260-1270 MHz Amateur Satellite Service Bands
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for June 13, 2019
  • How to Support AMSAT
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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The Case for Space:
How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up
a Future of Limitless Possibility

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – June.9.2019

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

** Crowd-funding chip-sats released into orbit on second try: Inexpensive chip-size satellites orbit Earth | Stanford News

A swarm of 105 tiny satellites the size of computer chips, costing under $100 each, recently launched into Earth’s orbit. Stanford scientist Zac Manchester, who dreamed up the ChipSats, said they pave the way for cheaper and easier space exploration.

Each ChipSat is a circuit board slightly larger than a postage stamp. Built for under $100 apiece, each ChipSat uses solar cells to power its essential systems: the radio, microcontroller and sensors that enable each device to locate and communicate with its peers. In the future, ChipSats could contain electronics tailored to specific missions, Manchester said. For instance, they could be used to study weather patterns, animal migrations or other terrestrial phenomena. Spacefaring applications might include mapping the surface features or internal composition of asteroids or moons orbiting other planets.

In 2009, while studying with Cornell professor Mason Peck, Manchester envisioned how to engineer the electronic essence of a satellite into a device even cheaper and easier to build than a CubeSat. In 2011, he crowdfunded his project by putting it on Kickstarter.com, quickly raising about $75,000 from 315 contributors, and what he initially called the KickSat project was born. “I want to make it easy and affordable enough for anyone to explore space” is how Manchester put it at the time.

Prof. Zac Manchester sent a swarm of postage-stamp sized satellites into orbit. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

The first attempt in 2014 failed when the CubeSat containing the ChipSats did not open before de-orbiting. The re-designed KickSat-2 was attached along with other smallsats to a Northrop-Grumman Cygnus cargo vehicle launched to the ISS last November.  After the Cygnus departed from the ISS, the small satellites were deployed into orbit. Then on March 18th, the 105 ChipSats were released from their CubeSat mothership.

That moment finally came, when the deployment commands were transmitted from the 60-foot dish behind the Stanford campus. Another anxious day passed before Manchester learned that the sensitive dish antenna had detected the faint signals from the ChipSats, which meant they were operational. Manchester worked with collaborators around the world to track the ChipSats as they transmitted data until reentering the atmosphere and burning up on March 21.

More about the project:

** HuskySat-1 is a student project at the University of Washington. The CubeSat is booked for launch aboard a Cygnus cargo vehicle (NG-12) on an Antares rocket that is currently set to lift off from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia on October 19, 2019.

The Husky Satellite Lab  is a student-run aerospace research club working on establishing a space presence for the University of Washington. We are currently working on our first mission, HuskySat-1. The HS1 is currently undergoing flight model integration testing.

Our Mission is to foster interdisciplinary student participation in space systems research, to inspire and train future space scientists and engineers, and to advance spacecraft capabilities at the University of Washington.

Our Team is composed primarily of UW undergraduate and graduate students, as well as mentors from the local aerospace industry. Our lead principal investigator is Professor Robert Winglee.

HuskySat-1-blowup
“Almost all of HuskySat-1 is being developed at the UW. The satellite is broken up into different subsystems. Each component is designed to be modular so that they can be most easily developed independently from each other and reused for future missions.” – Husky Satellite Lab

** More about the Chinese amateur radio satellite mentioned here last week: CAS-7B (BP-1B) amateur radio satellite now ready for launch | Southgate Amateur Radio News

CAS-7B (BP-1B) satellite
Testing of the CAS-7B (BP-1B) satellite built by CAMSAT (Chinese Amateur Satellite Group).

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-160 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Field Day on the Satellites
  • Final Call for Nominations – AMSAT Board of Directors
  • AMSAT President Awarded Russian E.T. Krenkel Medal
  • 37th Annual AMSAT Space Symposium, October 18-20, 2019
  • Dollar-for-Dollar Match on your ARISS Donation Thru June 17, 2019
  • AO-85 Back in Operation
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for June 2019
  • 2019 Edition of Getting Started with Amateur Satellites Available
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule
  • CAMSAT Announces Upcoming Launch of CAS-7B
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

See AMSAT (@AMSAT) | Twitter for more AMSAT news.

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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The Case for Space:
How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up
a Future of Limitless Possibility