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:


Moon Rush: The New Space Race

Space policy roundup – June.30.2019

A sampling of links to recent space policy, politics, and government (US and international) related space news and resource items that I found of interest:


**  The Space Show – Sun, 06/23/2019Loren Grush, space reporter at The Verge, discussed “the upcoming Falcon Heavy STP 2 launch, commercial, getting to and from the Moon, millennials and space, China, aerospace engineering, space journalism, women in space fields, green propellant and so very much more”.

** The Space Show/Hotel Mars – Wed, 06/26/2019 – Alan Boyle talked with John Batchelor and Dr. David Livingston about “the possible sale of Stratolaunch due to the recent death of Paul Allen”.

** The Space Show – Fri, 06/28/2019Charles Fishman talked about his new book, One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon.

** Hera: ESA’s planetary defence mission – ESA

** June 25, 2019 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black

** June 27, 2019 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black



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

Space transport roundup – June.28.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport:

[ Update: SpaceX accelerates Super Heavy/Starship development : SpaceX targets 2021 commercial Starship launch –

More SpaceX items below.


** Rocket Lab aims to launch an Electron rocket on June 29th following two postponements.

Live streaming webcast will begin 20 minutes before the targeted lift-off time. Here is some background on the “Make it Rain” mission:

The Make It Rain mission will launch multiple spacecraft as part of a rideshare flight procured by Spaceflight. The launch will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula.

The mission is named ‘Make it Rain’ in a nod to the high volume of rainfall in Seattle, where Spaceflight is headquartered, as well in New Zealand where Launch Complex 1 is located. Among the payloads on the mission for Spaceflight are BlackSky’s Global-3 satellite and Melbourne Space Program’s ACRUX-1 CubeSat.

More about the mission:

** Space is the theme of the July/August 2019 issue of MIT Technology Review magazine and several of the articles deal with space transport related topics, e.g.

** An interesting interview with Tom Markusic, founder and CEO of Firefly Aerospace, who talks about his experiences in working at NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic: Talking With a Leader of the Next Generation of Rocketry Companies – Texas Monthly

TM: I recently saw a stat that said SpaceX built its Falcon 9 rocket with almost $400 million, whereas there was a NASA estimate that it would cost $1.6 billion to build a similar kind of vehicle. Why is it so much cheaper for a private company to do that? 

MARKUSIC: When you’re doing something in that heritage space way, you’re inheriting a lot of requirements that can drive cost up. It’s a very risk-averse framework. Many things in the government are like, “You just add money and a person. Here are the instructions—do this thing.” That type of approach is usually pretty reliable in getting the result you want, but it’s really expensive. And it’s usually undergirded by contractors who are disincentivized to make things at the lowest cost. With New Space, you’re spending people’s money; you’re not spending this amorphous blob of taxpayer money. That just pervades the whole culture. 

** China’s Kyushu Yunjian rocket company fires up the gas generator for the “Longyun” Liquid Methane/Liquid Oxygen engine: “Longyun” 80t high thrust engine gas generator passed the assessment – Google Translate

In the second half of the year, Kyushu Yunjian […] will conduct a test of the whole machine test for the “Lingyun” engine. After the whole machine is tested, the “Lingyun” engine will enter the reliability test and assessment stage. The 80-ton “Longyun” liquid oxygen methane engine with greater thrust will also be tested and tested by other components in the second half of the year. Reusable and recycling technology verification rocket platform “Ling Wei” has completed the program demonstration, and is currently undergoing detailed engineering design and optimization.

** EU backed project pursues development of vertical landing reusable rockets.

Five European Companies and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have teamed up to tackle the shortcoming of
know-how in reusable rockets in Europe, which start upright and land upright after a successful mission. For that,
they commonly decided to investigate and develop key technologies to land rockets backwards. What is state-of-the-
art in the USA is only in its beginnings in Europe, and the consortium is determined to accept the challenge and
to become important players in this game changing technology.

RETALT1 Artwork

RETALT (RETro propulsion Assisted Landing Technologies) is a European project which got funded with 3 Mio. €
by the European Commission in the frame of Horizon 2020. The partnering organizations are the DLR (Germany),
CFS Engineering (Switzerland), Elecnor Deimos (Spain), MT Aerospace (Germany), Almatech (Switzerland) and
Amorim Cork Composites (Portugal).

During the three years of the project lifetime the consortium will investigate the areas of aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics (i.e. the temperatures that evolve at the surface of the vehicle during flight), flight dynamics, guidance, navigation and control, and advanced structural parts, materials and mechanisms. For this purpose, two types of rocket launchers will be investigated which both start and land in an upright position. One of them will have two stages and will be similar to conventional rockets like the Falcon 9 or the Ariane 5 launcher. For this launcher only the first stage will be landed again. The second launcher has only a single stage. It will be designed for the use of smaller payloads and when returning it will break not only with retro propulsion but also with the aid of a large aerodynamic base surface at the bottom.

See also Europe says SpaceX “dominating” launch, vows to develop Falcon 9-like rocket | Ars Technica

** Boeing’s Starliner crew spacecraft passes major milestone with the qualification of the parachute system: Starliner Space Capsule Completes Parachute Testing – Boeing

** The 3rd Annual Spaceport America Cup attracted 120 teams and the UW team was the overall winner: University of Washington Wins Third Annual Spaceport America Cup

Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport and the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA), congratulate the University of Washington Society for Advanced Rocket Propulsion as the Champion of the Third Annual Spaceport America Cup. Champions were selected in each category, and the University of Washington team was chosen by judges from the group of category champions as the overall winner.  

From June 18–22, thousands of students and spectators flocked to southern New Mexico from all over the globe, creating an economic and tourism boost for surrounding communities as part of their attendance at the 2019 Spaceport America Cup. This year’s competition was the largest to date, with over 120 teams registered including a large international presence from 14 different countries.

** SpaceX:

**** SpaceX raises more funding for Starlink and Starship development:

“SpaceX is the world’s leading private space launch provider, and we are excited to work with the company in the next phase of its growth as it rolls out its Starlink satellite network,” said Olivia Steedman, Senior Managing Director, TIP.

SpaceX was identified as a compelling investment opportunity for TIP due to its proven track record of technology disruption in the launch space and significant future growth potential in the satellite broadband market. TIP focuses on late-stage venture capital and growth equity investments in companies that use technology to disrupt incumbents and create new sectors.

“Our investment in SpaceX fits well within the TIP investment strategy of capitalizing on significant global opportunities in new businesses and sectors that are emerging as a result of unprecedented technological change,” added Ms. Steedman.

**** Next Dragon Cargo mission to the ISS set for July 21: SpaceX Targeting Sunday, July 21, at 7:35 p.m. for CRS-18 Launch – SpaceX

**** The 24 satellites launched on the latest Falcon Heavy mission are operating:

**** Center-core landing failure due to heat from the high re-entry velocity: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk explains why Falcon Heavy’s center core missed the drone ship – Teslarati

**** The first successful fairing catch took place in the dark in the Atlantic ocean:

**** Satellite image shows post landing activities of the two side boosters:

**** Watching the construction of the Starhopper and StarShip demonstrators is a popular on-line and on-site spectator pastime.


**** Elon visits the Starship orbital demonstrator under construction in Florida: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk & Raptor engine make surprise visit to Florida Starship – Teslarati

In what seems to be a coincidence, Musk’s message – either recorded or streamed – was filmed on SpaceX’s Florida Starship development campus, a surprisingly large facility uncovered less than two months ago. The CEO was standing in the sun directly in front of two large segments of the second orbital-class Starship prototype, part of a parallel development process featuring a second Starship prototype (and separate Starhopper) in Texas. Musk’s appearance at Starship Florida is not particularly surprising; if he flew all the way to Florida for Falcon Heavy, might as well tour SpaceX’s newest Florida facilities on the same trip.

**** The Super Heavy Booster/StarShip combo will be quite a sight to see:


Safe Is Not an Option

Videos: “Space to Ground” ISS report – June.28.2019

Here is this week’s episode of NASA’s Space to Ground report on activities related to the  International Space Station:

** Space Station Research: Intersecting the Magical and the Technical

At any given time, we have about 300 experiments being conducted aboard the International Space Station. Anne McClain shares an inspiring perspective on the research she’s helped conduct. Learn more about the research being conducted on Station:

** NASA astronaut Anne McClain seems more limber and energetic as she emerges from the Soyuz than many others after returning from a long stay on the ISS:

Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA is helped out of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft just minutes after she, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, landed in Kazakhstan. The trio spent 204 days on the International Space Station, during which they orbited Earth 3,264 times traveling 86,430,555 miles.


Outpost in Orbit:
A Pictorial & Verbal History of the Space Station

June 30th is Asteroid Day – Events start today

Asteroid Day is

… a dynamic awareness and educational program to inspire  the world about asteroids – their role in the formation of our universe, how we can use their resources, how asteroids can pave the way for future exploration and finally how we can protect our planet from asteroid impacts. Asteroid Day events are held on 30 June each year to mark the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska impact. Asteroid Day events are largely independently organized around the world for people of all ages and are mostly free-of-charge. Asteroid Day is a program run by the Asteroid Foundation, a Luxembourg nonprofit organization.

Asteroid Day 2019

June 30th is Asteroid Day, but many events are being held globally today through Sunday: Asteroid Day To Celebrate Fifth Anniversary with Thousands of Events Planned Worldwide to Raise Awareness about Asteroids, 27-30 June 2019.

The Asteroid Today channel is now live streaming: ADLIVE from Luxembourg

Watch live video from AsteroidDay on

Here is a schedule for Asteroid Day events and panels:

Follow developments and updates at Asteroid Day ☄ (@AsteroidDay) | Twitter.

A new film about asteroid research with next-gen telescopes is making its debut during Asteroid Day:

New Era of Cosmic Discovery” is a short film scheduled to be broadcasted as a part of the Asteroid Day 2019 live program from Luxembourg, from June 26th till July 2nd, 2019. Program schedule: Free streaming available via

We are on the brink of an era of cosmic discovery. A new generation of telescopes and astronomical surveys are yielding a 1000-fold increase in the amount of available astronomical data. At the University of Washington and the DiRAC Institute, a team of scientists are writing the software to identify and track objects in the sky that change with time. They are working with LSST [Large Synoptic Survey Telescope] to build the largest census of our Solar System ever undertaken.

Asteroid Day was

… co-founded in 2014, by Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist of QUEEN, together with Danica Remy, President of B612 Foundation, Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 Astronaut, and filmmaker Grig Richters. In 2016, the United Nations officially designated Asteroid Day as the international day of awareness and education about asteroids. Together with the United Nations, space agencies, schools and universities Asteroid Day is organized by networks of supporters who host events worldwide on 30, June and any other day of the year that the independent groups determine.

To initially launch the Asteroid Day education programs in 2014, members of the asteroid community drafted and released a petition to gather public support for asteroid education and called on governments to accelerate the funding of asteroid discovery programs. Today, this petition, the 100X Asteroid Declaration, has been signed by hundreds of prominent individuals around the world, including leaders in science, technology, and business, and more than 125 astronauts.

Thanks to its partners and supporters, and particularly to the Government of Luxembourg, where the Foundation is headquartered, Asteroid Day has made significant strides educating the world about asteroids.  Through our work we share information and teach about the science, opportunities, and risks of asteroids. Since the first events in 2015, the movement has grown exponentially. Through Asteroid Day, we continue to inspire people and young minds to look up into the sky and to be excited about our Solar System.

Here is a video about the history of Asteroid Day narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Asteroid Day 2019 Poster
Official Asteroid Day 2019 poster art.