Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Aug.25.2019

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** Communications with the Virginia CubeSat Constellation spacecraft built by several Virginia universities and deployed from the ISS into orbit in July have not been established yet: Aerospace team awaits communication with CubeSat after successful deployment into space | The Cavalier Daily

In order to contact Libertas, a “wake-up command” was sent up by U.Va. An acknowledgement packet — a unit of data that must be decoded — was sent back, responding to the ground station signal. Due to technical difficulties with the University’s ground station caused by a series of lightning storms, the Virginia Tech ground station was able to listen in and receive the response signal. By achieving this one-way communication, Libertas is currently the only CubeSat which has responded to a signal, showing that it is alive and working. 

“Initially from deployment, we don’t know if the satellite is on, or whether something broke,” [Uni. Virginia student Connor Segal] said. “You don’t know if maybe the antenna didn’t deploy or the board was hit with a cosmic ray, so the initial step is establishing contact and seeing whether the satellite is alive or not.”

Though the team has not made two-way communication with the satellite, meaning they have not received data, Segal is happy with where the team is at.

See previous entries about the Virginia CubeSat program here, here, here, and here. This video shows the deployment of the three CubeSat Constellation spacecraft

Virginia CubeSat ConstellationDeployment
Three Virginia CubeSat Constellation spacecraft deployed from the ISS on July 9, 2019.

** Philippines program encourages student involvement in smallsats: STeP-UP Project launches new batch of nanosatellite graduate students – Manila Bulletin News

The STeP-UP Project aims to spread the knowledge gained from the Development of Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite (PHL-Microsat) Program to local universities through the design and teaching of hands-on courses or subjects on small satellites and inter-university collaboration.

Through the support of the DOST-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), the STeP-UP Project offers scholarships for masters students who are interested in applying to the MS EE or ME EE programs in UP Diliman to study nanosatellite technology, specifically the mission design, implementation, launch, and operation of 1U CubeSats.

** CubeSat built by students at Oak Ridge, Tennessee middle school will launch to space in 2020:

The small cube satellite built by Robertsville Middle School students with help from teachers, mentors, and NASA is scheduled to launch in October 2020, and it will be deployed from the International Space Station, Oak Ridge Schools announced Monday.

The school system said it has received notification of the launch date from NASA.

“We received the official word from Scott Higginbotham at Kennedy Space Center,” Oak Ridge Schools said in a press release. “His letter stated, ‘RamSat is currently manifested to fly on the ELaNa-31 mission aboard the NG-14 Commercial Resupply Services mission to the ISS. Launch is currently scheduled for October of 2020. NanoRacks will be facilitating the deployment of your spacecraft from the International Space Station.’”

Students have determined the mission of the cube satellite, or CubeSat, will be to circle the Earth and capture images to help them study the regrowth of vegetation in Gatlinburg, as the city recovers from the forest fires of November 2016, the press release said. The satellite has been named RamSat.

** Hawaii program involves middle and high school students in CubeSat project: Ifa helps Hilo kids launch payload into space | University of Hawaiʻi System News

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronmy (IfA) is teaming up with the Hawaii Science and Technology Museum (HSTM) and Hilo students to launch a mini satellite, or CubeSat, into space. HSTMwas recently awarded the DREAM Payload Program grant from Firefly Aerospace.

Once deployed from Firefly’s Alpha launch vehicle, the HSTM CubeSat will collect the data for its four missions in science, art, engineering and education. “The main objective of our CubeSat mission is to bring more aerospace curriculum to the students of Hawaiʻi Island,” said Christian Wong, director of HSTM. “We’re actually going to space!”

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-237 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Second Call for AMSAT 2019 Symposium Papers
  • Volunteer Opportunity: ANS Rotating Editors Needed
  • American Communications Committee Guards 5GHz and 47 GHZ Bands
  • SatNOGS Basics to be Featured at 2019 ARRL-TAPR Conference
  • New French CEPT paper still seeks 144-146 MHz for Aeronautical
  • Another Threat to the Amateur Radio 23cm Band
  • New 144-146 Web SDR at Goonhilly Available
  • AMSAT-LU Announces Marine Buoy Testing and Tracking Project
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:


** Innovation: CubeSat | SDPB [South Dakota Public Radio]

Dr. Hadi Fekrmandi is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Skye Rutan-Bedard is a mechanical engineering undergraduate researcher.  The difference between a satellite and a cube sat is more than just the price tag. Research at School of Mines is looking at cameras used in a CubeSat as the goal is to expand from one small satellite to a swarm of smaller satellites working together to focus on specific research areas.

See also CubeSat Swarms Maybe the Next Innovation in Satellite Technology – South Dakota School of Mines.

** Constellations, a New Space and Satellite Innovation Podcast: 57 – Smallsats, Sensors and Real-Time Decision-Making Data


Introduction to CubeSat Technology and Subsystem:
Orbit Design, Debris Impact, and Orbital Decay Prediction