Category Archives: Amateur/Student Satellite

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Sept.3.2019

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

** Oman university student team builds CubeSat:  SQU team develops sultanate’s first CubeSat – Oman – Muscat Daily

Oman’s first non-commercial CubeSat is a reality now. A team comprising faculty members and students from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the College of Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) has executed the project.

It is a type of miniaturised satellite for space research. The project was proposed and supervised by Dr Amir Mohamed Abdulghani and Sayyid Dr Samir al Busaidi. The students who worked to design the satellite’s payload comprised Abdulaziz Mohammed al Qamshaoui, Luay Khalifa al Yaqoubi and Ali Abdulhamied al Shamali.

** Arizona State University team building Phoenix CubeSat for study of “the Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect: a phenomenon in which the structure of the city causes a rise in surface temperature”: Mini-spacecraft built by ASU students will study urban heat island effect – ASU Now

If all goes as planned, one day this October a spacecraft the size of jumbo loaf of bread will leave from Wallops, Virginia, packed aboard a cargo rocket bound for the International Space Station.

The spacecraft is a cubesat named Phoenix, and it is the creation of more than 100 science and engineering students, faculty and researchers at Arizona State University.

On Aug. 18, the Phoenix spacecraft was hand-delivered by the student team to Nanoracks, a launch integrator, at their facility in Houston. There it underwent final tests and preparations for its launch to the Space Station, planned for Oct. 21, 2019. After it arrives at the Space Station, Phoenix will be sent into low-Earth orbit sometime early next year.

The Phoenix spacecraft is designed for a two-year mission to take thermal images of several American cities (including its namesake, Phoenix) by day and by night.

ASU Phoenix Cubesat Diagram
Components of the ASU Phoenix Cubesat.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-244 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • 2019 37th AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting
  • 2019 AMSAT Symposium Early-Bird Registration Rate Until September 15
  • Second Call for AMSAT 2019 Symposium Papers
  • Mark Johns, KØJM, Appointed Editor-in-Chief AMSAT News Service
  • Emergency Traffic Relayed over AO-92 Satellite
  • University of Tsukuba YUI Satellite Project D-ATV User Survey
  • ARISS Activities
  • AMSAT SA Dual Band Yagi Now Available for Export
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • German CEPT Response States Sharing of 144-146 MHz Not Realistic
  • Talks by Radio Amateurs at UKHAS Conference London Sept 7
  • CAMSAT Applies for IARU Coordination for Four V/U Transponder Satellites
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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

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.

Continue reading Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Aug.25.2019

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Aug.18.2019

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

** Northwest Nazarene University’s student-built RFTSat was launched into orbit from a Northrop-Grumman Cygnus spacecraft using the SlingShot deployer, developed by the SEOPS division of Hypergiant.

NNU RFTSat (Radio Frequency Tag Satellite) CubeSat
Northwest Nazarene University RFTSat (Radio Frequency Tag Satellite) CubeSat.

RFTSat was deployed into orbit on August 7, 2019!

The NNU RFTSat (Radio Frequency Tag Satellite) CubeSat team is designing and building a 3U CubeSat to demonstrate the application of radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting and backscatter communication to the problem of distributed sensing in space. A small RF tag will be mounted on the side of the satellite and contain a temperature sensor. The tag will not contain a battery, but will be powered by energy emitted from an RF reader inside the satellite. The tag’s sensor data will be wirelessly sent back to the reader via backscatter communication, and then to the Earth via a Globalstar satellite constellation link. RF tags equipped with sensors could be added to a spacecraft, like the ISS, without additional wires or power supplies and provide a means to monitor structural integrity, space weather, or make sensitive electric/magnetic field measurements.

See also:

An animation of how the Slingshot works:

** Student and volunteer Fossa Systems project in Space is building a PocketQube picosat: Spain’s First Open Source Satellite | Hackaday

[Fossa Systems], a non-profit youth association based out of Madrid, is developing an open-source satellite set to launch in October 2019. The FossaSat-1 is sized at 5x5x5 cm, weighs 250g, and will provide free IoT connectivity by communicating LoRa RTTY signals through low-power RF-based LoRa modules. The satellite is powered by 28% efficient gallium arsenide TrisolX triple junction solar cells.

A video from Fossa Systems co-founder Julian Fernandez:

Fossa Systems is a non-profit association based in Spain and dedicated to the development of picosatellite technologies. Our mission is to democratize access to space telecommunications and in-orbit hardware by launching satellites that can fit in your pocket and creating educational and development kits. Our first satellite FossaSat-1 is set to launch in Q3 of 2019 and will create the worlds first free and open source IoT network.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-230 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Space Symposium Call for Papers
  • 2019 AMSAT Board of Directors Election Reminder
  • FCC Dismisses ARRL, AMSAT Requests in Small Satellite Proceeding
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution
  • 50th Anniversary AMSAT Space Symposium Banquet Speakers Announced
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • PSAT2 Downlink for DTMF Grids and Messages
  • Microwave Update Call for Submissions
  • Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule
  • Chinese Satellite Profiles RF Spectrum as Seen from Lunar Orbit
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Amateur satcom: Pirates On US Navy Satellites – UHF SatCom | Southgate Amateur Radio News

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Previous Smallsat postings here.

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

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Aug.12.2019

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

** Virginia Tech awarded NASA contract to launch and operate the LAICE CubeSat (Lower Atmosphere/Ionosphere Coupling Experiment) as a part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative program. Lower Atmosphere/Ionsphere Coupling Experiment CubeSat – Gov Mik

The spacecraft will study to

…what extent do Gravity Waves influence the coupling of the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the lower ionosphere/mesosphere/thermosphere. 

The Virgin Tech team led the LAICE CubeSat project but they were

unable to attain an FCC license and therefore LAICE has been shelved indefinitely. The 2013 National Academy Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey Key Science Goal 2 has made this an attractive opportunity as launch and operation of the LAICE CubeSat will address key aspects of the goal. 

LAICE diagram
Diagram of the Lower Atmosphere/Ionosphere Coupling Experiment (LAICE) CubeSat. Credits: LAICE Overview presentation

** University Würzburg Experimental Satellite 4 (UWE-4) demonstrates Morpheus Space miniature electric thrusters: Electric thrusters changed attitude of University Würzburg cubesat – SpaceNews.com

The University Würzburg Experimental Satellite 4 has four 160-gram Morpheus Nano Field Effect Electric Propulsion (NanoFEEP) thrusters integrated in its rails, facing the same direction. In May, mission controllers fired the thrusters, which combine a liquid gallium propellant with a chip-based neutralizer, for slightly more than six minutes.

While the thrusters fired, the satellite’s rotation increased from approximately 1.7 degrees per second to more than four degrees per second, according to “Hybrid attitude control on-board UWE-4 using magnetorquers and the electric propulsion system NanoFEEP,” by Alexander Kramer, Philip Bangert and Klaus Schilling of University Würzburg.

University Würzburg Experimental Satellite 4 (UWE-4)
“UWE‑4 with Thrusters, Neutralizer and a new kind of sun sensors on each panel.” – University Würzburg

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-223 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • 50th Anniversary AMSAT Space Symposium Banquet Speakers Announced – Tickets Now Available
  • FUNcube-1/AO-73 Entering Continuous Sunlight
  • ARRL/TAPR 2019 Digital Communications Conference Call for Papers
  • BRICSAT2 and PSAT2 Get OSCAR Designations
  • 19th Global Symposium for Regulators
  • SSA Defends 23cm Band Against Galileo Threat
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks:
A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic (Springer Praxis Books)

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Aug.5.2019

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

** Univ. of North Carolina team building CubeSat for exoplanet studies: From Campus to Space: UNC Professor Building His Own Satellite – Chapelboro.com

Mann says student help is very valuable when it comes to design and creation. Senior Patrick Gorman is working on the research through the summer, currently designing the chassis and antenna for the CubeSat. He’s the president of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space organization on campus and the project appealed to him because of the variety of work he can do.

Mann says one of the reasons he’s happy the university guided him to making the satellite is the learning opportunity it provides to students like Gorman.

“Think how much more beneficial this is to a student who helped build something and gets to see it launch rather than get to see something else launch that someone else built. It’s much more satisfying for people involved, which I think is better for the education aspect of the program here.”

Mann says the prototype of the satellite should be complete in the next year, with the first launch of their CubeSat expected in two years.

** Colorado State TEMPEST-D demonstrates high-quality storm imaging capabilities with a low cost CubeSat: Small, nimble CSU satellite has surpassed a year in space –  SOURCE/Colorado State University

After meeting all its benchmarks for demonstrating small-satellite weather forecasting capabilities during its first 90 days, a Colorado State University experimental satellite is operating after more than one year in low-Earth orbit.

TEMPEST-D (Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems – Demonstration), a type of small satellite called a 6U CubeSat, is still providing precise images of global weather – exceeding the expectations of even its engineers.

TEMPEST-D is about the size of an Oxford dictionary and was deployed from the International Space Station last July carrying a miniaturized microwave radiometer. Measuring at five frequencies, TEMPEST-D can see through clouds to reveal the interior of storms where raindrops and ice crystals form.

The project is led by principal investigator Steven Reising, professor of electrical and computer engineering, whose team developed the satellite supported by an $8.2 million grant from NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office.

TEMPEST-D CubeSat
An artist’s rendering of the TEMPEST-D CubeSat in orbit. Image credit: Blue Canyon Technologies, CSU

See also TEMPEST-D – NASA JPL and

** Cal Poly profs awarded grants in support of CubeSat programs: Cal Poly Engineering Professors Plan to Expand CubeSat, Programming Education with Lockheed Endowments – Cal Poly News/Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Pauline Faure, assistant professor in the Aerospace Engineering Department, and Maria Pantoja, assistant professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department, each received a $25,000 award. The awards recognize faculty members who contribute new knowledge in the field of engineering; partner with industry; involve students with advanced ideas; and enhance teaching by introducing state-of-the-art topics in the classroom.

The awards provide time and resources for professional growth and development to enrich the educational experiences of Cal Poly students. In addition to their mini satellite work, the faculty members also plan to expand the use of parallel computing to study earthquakes, Hawaiian bird calls and wine production.

Faure said her main goal is to facilitate access to space to more people through STEM education, using mini-satellites called CubeSats as a tool.

“This is important because space is supposed to be available to all nations regardless of the hardships they might be facing,” she said. “Yet, space has a reputation of being inaccessible, complex and expensive.”

CubeSats, co-created by retired Cal Poly faculty member Jordi Puig-Suari, have allowed students and private citizens worldwide to become more involved in space research. Several CubeSats developed at Cal Poly have been launched into space.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-216 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • CAS-7B Designated BIT Progress-OSCAR 102 (BO-102)
  • AMSAT and ARISS Designing Amateur Radio System for Lunar Gateway
  • ARISS SSTV Owen Garriott Event Underway
  • AMSAT Member Named Young Ham of the Year
  • AMSAT member Wins Alabama Outstanding Youth Ham Award
  • ARISS Next Gen System Completes Critical Flight Certification Tests
  • Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for July 2019
  • LightSail 2 Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for August 1, 2019
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

See also

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks:
A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic (Springer Praxis Books)