Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Dec.17.2018

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

** Satellite built by Champaign firm, UI students about to set sail |

The small “CubeSail” satellite, more than a decade in the making, is set to launch sometime after 10 p.m. from New Zealand, hitching a ride on the Electron rocket from the commercial space company Rocket Lab.

Designed and built by UI engineering students and CU Aerospace, a Champaign technology firm, CubeSail will demonstrate a new technique for steering a “solar sail,” a solar-powered satellite propulsion system.

** NASA Mission Supports Launch of CubeSats Built by Students | NASA

NASA has enabled the deployment of two small research satellites, or CubeSats, developed by a middle school and high school. These CubeSat missions were selected through the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) as the 24th installment of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions. The ELaNa 24 mission embarked on the first Spaceflight Industries contracted small payload mission for NASA on a Falcon 9 rocket that lifted off Dec. 3 at 10:32 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Over the past three years, more than 200 students have been involved in the design, development and construction of these CubeSats that will be deployed.

**  Laser-pointing system could help tiny satellites transmit data to Earth | MIT News

The new laser-pointing platform for CubeSats, which is detailed in the journal Optical Engineering, enables CubeSats to downlink data using fewer onboard resources at significantly higher rates than is currently possible. Rather than send down only a few images each time a CubeSat passes over a ground station, the satellites should be able to downlink thousands of high-resolution images with each flyby.

“To obtain valuable insights from Earth observations, hyperspectral images, which take images at many wavelengths and create terabytes of data, and which are really hard for CubeSats to get down, can be used,” says Kerri Cahoy, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. “But with a high-rate lasercom system you’d be able to send these detailed images down quickly. And I think this capability will make the whole CubeSat approach, using a lot of satellites in orbit so you can get global and real-time coverage, more of a reality.”

** Cal Poly’s 10th CubeSat Mission to Blast Off From New Zealand on Dec. 12 – Cal Poly News – Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

“This was a big mission for us with a tight schedule,” said Grigory Heaton, a senior studying aerospace engineering and physics, who is the co-mission lead for the ISX mission for PolySat, the student-run research lab. “Most of the assembly occurred last winter. It’s awesome that we get to have this spacecraft launched while most of the students who worked on the assembly itself are still here at Cal Poly.”

ISX will be launched into an orbit with an altitude of about 500 kilometers — about 30 miles higher than the team’s last satellite, DAVE, or Damping and Vibrations Experiment, which launched in September from Vandenberg Air Force Base. ISX will be “in a fairly polar orbit, so the satellite will fly over almost all points on Earth at some point,” Heaton said.

“This is also our lab’s first time launching a satellite on a launch that is all CubeSats. Every other time we’ve launched, the satellite has been behind a much bigger satellite. So it’s pretty cool that our satellite actually gets to be inside the fairing as part of the main payload.”

PolySat is a multidisciplinary and independent lab made up of students from a variety of majors. ISX team members include students studying aerospace, computer, electrical, mechanical and software engineering as well as computer science and physics.

** Jordan’s First CubeSat, JY1Sat, is Designated as JO-97 –

JY1Sat, launched on December 3 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of the SpaceX SSO-A: SmallSat Express launch, has been designated as Jordan OSCAR 97 (JO-97). The 1U CubeSat is a project of the Crown Prince Foundation of Jordan. Telemetry has been received and decoded around the world since the launch.

** USI Team Builds Satellite Heading to Space Station – Inside INdiana Business

A team of students from the University of Southern Indiana designed and built a satellite that launched last week on a SpaceX rocket heading for the International Space Station. The satellite will collect data for NASA research until the end of its life cycle in January 2020.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane says the students worked on the satellite as part of the multi-year, undergraduate Nano Ionospheric Temperature Explorer, or UNITE, CubeSat project. USI student Ryan Loehrlein, who is also an intern at NSWC Crane, called working on the NASA-funded project a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-350 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin:

  • AO-85 Operation Guidelines
  • AMSAT Engineering Team Moves Forward
  • Recurring Donations Feature Added to
  • Support AMSAT Using Your IRA
  • Updates to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution
  • Fox-1E and Co-Passenger Amateur Radio Frequencies
  • ELaNa XIX Launch Delayed
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • AMSAT Award Announcements
  • Dragon/NanoRacks Delivers Cubesats to ISS
  • Apollo 8 50th Anniversary Special Event
  • Amateur Satellite News From South Africa
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:


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