Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – April.1.2019

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

** Yale student team to build BLAST CubeSat with cosmic ray detector. The NASA sponsored spacecraft will launch in 2020: Student-built satellite to launch into space – Yale Daily News

On March 14, a group of Yale students learned some stellar news — NASA selected their satellite to be launched into space. The announcement marks the first time a Yale undergraduate group will launch a spacecraft.

The team — which consists of members of the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association — received the launch grant through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative competition. Over the course of four years, students designed a satellite called BLAST, which stands for Bouchet Low-Earth Alpha/Beta Space Telescope.

See also:

** CubeSat SeaHawk-1 with an ocean color instrument was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in December. The SeaHawk team has released the first images from the spacecraft: SeaHawk-1 CubeSat Captures First Ocean Color Image –

This first SeaHawk-1 engineering test image (pictured above) was captured by the HawkEye instrument on March 21st, 2019 at 18:47 UT from an altitude of 588 km and superimposed on Google Map data © 2019 Google, INEGI. At the current altitude that SeaHawk is flying, the pixel resolution of the HawkEye instrument is approximately 130 meters (425 feet) giving us an image size of approximately 6000 lines along track (780 km or 485 mi) x 1800 pixels across track (234 km or 145 mi). The true color full resolution closeup of the region from south of Monterey Bay to north of San Francisco (presented below) was produced by combining three of the Hawkeye bands (red band-6 (670nm), green band-5 (555nm) and blue band-2 (443nm).

The project is led by the SOCON (Sustained Ocean Color Observations using Nanosatellites) team at Univ. of North Carolina at Wilmington and also includes NASA, AAC Clyde Space, and Cloudland Instruments. The project was funded with grants from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

SeaHawk-1 is a 3U CubeSat (size 30x10x10cm and weight 5kg) designed and built by AAC Clyde Space and launched in December 2018 aboard SpaceX Falcon 9. SeaHawk-1 CubeSat was one of the 64 satellites included in the Spaceflight SSO-A Small Sat Express: their first dedicated ride-share mission for small satellites.

SeaHawk-1 is also the first 3U CubeSat specifically designed to carry an ocean color instrument payload (HawkEye). The goal of this proof-of-concept mission is to provide free high-spatial resolution images of Earth’s coastal regions. HawkEye, designed by Cloudland Instruments, is an 8-band multispectral instrument similar to SeaWiFS (one of the most successful ocean color missions to date).

It differs in that: it was miniaturized (10x10x10cm) to fit inside the CubeSat, band 7 was modified to improve atmospheric correction, all bands were designed not to saturate over land, and the entire sensor was built with low-cost, off-the-shelf materials.

** University of Toronto students fund and build CubeSat for space biology experiment: Lofty goals: UTAT gears up for milestone competitions – U of T Engineering News

The Space Systems Division is preparing to launch the first fully student-funded Canadian satellite into orbit. The small satellite, or cubesat — about the size of a loaf of bread — will carry a biological payload and will analyze the behavior of bacteria in space with the aim of assessing the risk of infections during a long-term space mission.

The team has a busy summer ahead: they’ll be testing the accuracy of the sensors on the cubesat, running hundreds of hours of electronics tests and conducting thermal tests to ensure their satellite’s components can withstand the extreme temperatures it will experience in orbit, between -40 and 80 degrees C.

The cubesat is scheduled to launch on the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in January 2020.

“Cassandra Chanen (Year 2 EngSci) shows off the Heron MK II, a cubesat that will take a microbiology payload to space. (Credit: Erica Rae Chong)”

** More about the Hampton University students developing CubeSat software in a project sponsored by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium:

Hampton University is part of a collaborative project of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium where students from three Virginia universities delivered small satellites to NanoRacks in Houston, to be integrated into a CubeSat deployer (NRCSD), which will be launched into space on April 17, 2019. Four undergraduate Hampton University students worked on the project by developing software to perform analysis on the data that will be received from the satellites.

“Hampton University has always been on the forefront of innovation. The work our students are doing is being recognized and utilized by industry leaders, and we are excited to be part of this collaboration,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.

The satellites will communicate data to ground stations at Virginia Tech, University of Virginia and Old Dominion University for subsequent analysis using an analytical tool being developed by Hampton University students from the Atmospheric and Planetary Science Department.

More than 140 undergraduate students have been hard at work on the mission since June 2016 as a cross-institutional team. Undergraduate student leaders and team members from physics, electrical engineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and computer science disciplines have worked together to make the mission a reality. The students have been coached by faculty advisors and have benefitted greatly from advice from NASA, industry and academic advisors, and NanoRacks, the world’s leading commercial space station company.

“Asanji Chofor at the CubeSat build AGILE workshop.”

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-090 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • SSTV Transmissions from ISS Set for April 1-2, 2019
  • AO73/FUNcube-1 Mode Changes
  • AMSAT Academy to be Held Prior to Hamvention Thursday, May 16, 2019
  • ARISS Out-of-this-Word Auction Starts April 8, 2018
  • International Space Station Astronauts are Calling CQ Students
  • India Space Research Organization to Launch EMISAT With 28 Satellites on April 1, 2019
  • AMSAT India Requests APRS Reports
  • GRCon19 to be Held September 16-20, 2019
  • This Month in AMSAT History
  • AmazonSmile for AMSAT!
  • Microwave Update Conference October 3-5, 2019 in Lewisville, TX
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:


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