Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – July.28.2019

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

** Princeton Univ. TigerSat to demonstrate miniaturized cylindrical Hall thruster for cubesats: Small but mighty: A mini plasma-powered satellite under construction may launch a new era in space exploration – Princeton

A tiny satellite under construction at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) could open new horizons in space exploration. Princeton University students are building the device, a cubic satellite or “CubeSat,” as a testbed for a miniaturized rocket thruster with unique capabilities being developed at PPPL.

The CubeSat’s thruster, whose development is led by PPPL physicist Yevgeny Raitses, holds the promise of increased flexibility for the tiny satellites, more than a thousand of which have been launched by universities, research centers and commercial interests around the world. The proposed propulsion device — powered by plasma — could raise and lower the orbits of CubeSats circling the Earth, a capability not broadly available to small spacecraft today, and would hold the potential for exploration of deep space.

“Essentially, we will be able to use these miniature thrusters for many missions,” Raitses said. 

Princeton Tigersat group
Princeton graduate and undergraduate students gather with advisors around model of the CubeSat chassis. From left: Jacob Simmonds, Jerry Xiang, Nirbhav Chopra, Daniel Marlow, Yevgeny Raitses, Seth Freeman, Matthew Bledsoe and Daniel Piatek (Seton Hall student).  Photo byElle Starkman, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

** Indian student group building CubeSat with hyperspectal imager for launch in 2021: BITS students fired up to realise their space dream – The Financial Express

With some help from experts from the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), the undergraduate students are inching closer to designing their one-of-its-kind nano-sat equipped with a special camera that will help study the earth’s surface for response during natural hazards and track carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Christened Team Anant, the group comprises of students from all engineering branches and batches at the Rajasthan-based institute. So far, the students have developed a prototype for their payload, built one of the antennas for their ground station and integrated it with their transceiver to track signals from the International Space Station.

“Our nano-satellite will be the first in India to use hyperspectral imager. Globally, only two other nano-satellites have used such an imager,” said Kaushley Mehra, a member of the publicity group of Team Anant. The `1 crore project is being funded by BITS, Pilani, while the Isro is expected to bear the `20 lakh cost of satellite launch once an MoU is signed as part of the Union government’s push to encourage research. “The cost of components and basic supplies is borne partly by the institute and by sponsors,” said Mehra, adding that their team is looking for as many sponsors as possible.

** College students to compete in MTT-Sat Challenge to develop new RF and microwave technologies for CubeSats: IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society Seeks Student CubeSat RF Hardware Proposals –

The IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) has announced the MTT-Sat Challenge for groups of students developing RF hardware for CubeSat applications. The MTT-Sat Challenge is a worldwide competition for teams of undergraduate and graduate students to design and build RF hardware for small satellites. The most promising designs will undergo space environmental qualification testing and could be incorporated into an actual CubeSat.

“The main goal of the MTT-Sat Challenge is to advance space RF and microwave education, inspire students to pursue science and engineering education and careers, and prepare tomorrow’s leaders with the interdisciplinary teamwork skills, which are necessary for success,” the society said in announcing the competition. The MTT-Sat Challenge is intended to run over 4 academic years (starting in June 2019) and is divided into several phases spanning overall technology readiness levels. Proposals may be submitted for every single phase.

** Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) to send tiny student-made “LunaSats” to the surface of the Moon: Students to send hundreds of leaf-sized spacecraft to the moon | CU Boulder Today | University of Colorado Boulder

… students from Colorado and across the world will continue that legacy of exploration via the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE), a space mission led by NASA’s New York and Colorado Space Grant Consortium. Inspired by the Apollo moon landings, the project will send 500 spacecraft small enough to fit in the palm of your hand to the moon by 2023.

These “LunaSats,” each of which will cost less than $200, will collect valuable data on conditions at the lunar surface. They’ll be designed and built by students, said Chris Koehler, director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, which is based at CU Boulder. 

“As we all celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, let us tell the world we are going to the moon with a new mission conducted by students from countries across the globe, and we will be there by 2023,” Koehler said.

** University students build Sudanese CubeSats: Inside Sudan’s National Space Programme – Space in Africa

Future University (formerly known as Computer Man College), which is the first specialised Information and communications technology university in Sudan, offers undergraduate and graduate programmes in space science and engineering, run by the Faculty of Telecommunications and Space Technology. The University hosts Sudan’s first Space Technology Centre, which was established in 2000. The Centre recently started a CubeSat project, following years of research and development in remote sensing and space physics.

The University of Khartoum(UofK) runs what is arguably Sudan’s most advanced satellite programme. The University’s satellite programme began in October 2010 with a CubeSat project at the Electrical and Electronics Department. In 2014, the University established a specialised Space Research Centre to coordinate all space-related activities across various departments of the University. So far, the University has designed and fabricated two CubeSat prototypes – KN-Sat1 and UOKSat-2 – and has successfully installed an operational ground station to track satellites and analyse geospatial data.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-209 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • CAS-7B Launched and Operational
  • Upcoming ARISS SSTV Events
  • AMSAT-Chile developing CESAR-1 FM / digital satellites
  • FO-99 Transponder Activated over North America, Other Activations Scheduled
  • LO-94 Lunar Impact Expected on July 31st
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for July 26, 2019
  • How to Support AMSAT
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

See also AMSAT President Asks Members to Help Keep Amateur Radio in Space –

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

  • Projects:
    • LibertyQube-1 – PocketQube developed by Libertylife LLC of Japan.


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