Category Archives: Education

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Feb.27.2020

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

** Univ. of Maine MESAT1 CubeSat project to involve high schools in environmental data analysis:

“We offered to kind of lead this effort,” said Ali Abedi, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UMaine and director of UMaine’s Center for Undergraduate Research. “The University of Maine will build the satellite, will work with NASA to launch it, and we’ll provide the data to middle schools and high schools.”

Graduate students from UMaine and undergraduate students from the University of Southern Maine will be involved in designing, developing and testing the small satellite, which will be about the size of a loaf of bread.

** Two university CubeSat projects underway in the Philippines: Scholars develop nanosatellites – Manila Bulletin News

Two nanosatellites which will be the first “Philippine university-built”, are slated for launch in the last quarter of the year, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said.

The Maya 3 and Maya 4 cube satellites (CubeSat) are currently being developed by the first batch of scholars under the local nanosatellite engineering track in the Master of Science/Master of Electrical Engineering (MSEE/MSEE) graduate program at the University of the Philippines (UPD), through a scholarship grant from the DOST – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI).

See also Maya-4 @ Nanosats Database.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-054 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • QARMAN and Phoenix CubeSats Deployed from ISS
  • AMSAT Files Comments Opposing Deletion of 3.4 GHz Band
  • NEMO-1 Buoy Report
  • GNU Radio Conference – Tickets and Call for Papers
  • U.S. Naval Academy’s PSAT3 Scheduled to Launch in Mid-March
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution
  • “Getting Started with Amateur Satellites” Available with Membership
  • ARISS Radio Telebridge Stalwart Gerald Klatzko, ZS6BTD, SK
  • Upcoming ARISS Contacts
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** ASU’s Phoenix CubeSat deployment from the ISS:

** Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer – On Orbit Assembly – Drew Morgan

Check out this great time lapse of Astronaut Drew Morgan preparing the 17th Nanoracks CubeSat Deployment Mission on the International Space Station! Nanoracks deployed nine satellites in February 2020 as a part of this mission.

** Building CubeSats to test electrodynamic tethering in space with MiTEE

Electrodynamic tethering could enable coordinated fleets of tens to hundreds of miniature satellites, transforming the way we monitor natural disasters, space weather and the broader space environment by eliminating the need for propellant to maintain a proper orbit and formation:

Mi-TEE (Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment) is a University of Engineering project that aims to test the tethering technology in space. The project was selected by NASA in 2015 as part of its CubeSat Launch Initiative. The experiment is currently expected to launch in 2020.

The project is currently organized through U-M’s Multidisciplinary Design Program, and is advised by Brian Gilchrist, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of U-M’s Space Physics Research Laboratory (SPRL).

** Jeff Dillon – Cubesat to Mars – 22nd Annual International Mars Society Convention

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Feb.20.2020

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

** Several university CubeSats deployed from Cygnus spacecraft by Nanoracks system: Nanoracks Completes 17th Commercial Space Station CubeSat Deployment Mission | Nanoracks

Nanoracks’ 17th CubeSat deployment mission included satellites launched to the International Space Station on both Northrop Grumman’s NG-12 flight and the SpaceX CRS-19 mission. The deployer packs were then assembled together on orbit by the astronaut crew.

“The diversity of users on each CubeSat mission is growing with every flight,” says Nanoracks Senior External Payloads Mission Manager, Tristan Prejean. “Our 17th CubeSat mission has satellites built by university students, international space agencies and research institutes, commercial companies reaching the ISS for the first time, and by our friends at NASA. Commercial access to low-Earth orbit is enabling an unprecedented cohort of users from around the world to make discoveries in space – and we are watching this grow year by year.”

The satellites released on February 19, 2020 and their deployment times were:
– RadSat-u (Montana State University) – 07:10:01 GMT
– Phoenix (Arizona State University) – 09:35:00 GMT
– QARMAN (von Karman institute) – 11:20:00 GMT
– CryoCube (Sierra Lobo Incorporated/NASA Kennedy) and AzTechSat-1 (Collaborative
program between NASA Ames and Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla
[UPAEP] in Mexico) – 12:55:01 GMT
– SOCRATES (University of Minnesota) – 14:30:00 GMT
– HARP (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) and ARGUS-02 (Saint Louis University) – 16:00:00 GMT
– SORTIE (Astra LLC)- 17:40:00 GMT

Notably, AzTechSat-1 is the first satellite built by students in Mexico for deployment from the Space Station and is the first CubeSat built as a collaboration between the Mexican Space Agency and NASA. The investigation demonstrates communication within a satellite network in low-Earth orbit. Such Intra-satellite communication could reduce the need for ground stations, lowering the cost and increasing the number of data downloads possible for satellite applications.

Additionally, HARP marked the 100th CubeSat project for which launch and deployment was funded by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), which offers universities, high schools and non-profit organizations the opportunity to fly small satellites. Launches for CSLI selectees are provided through Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions facilitated by NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP). HARP, RadSat-u, Phoenix, SOCRATES, CryoCube, AzTechSat-1, SORTIE, and ARGUS-02 missions were all part of the ELaNa 25 mission managed by NASA LSP.

See also

ASU Phoenix Cubesat Diagram
Component diagram of the ASU Phoenix Cubesat.

** More about the NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative program: CubeSat Launch Initiative Celebrates 100th Mission Deployment | NASA

Today the Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP) CubeSat made history by becoming the 100th CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) selected mission deployed into space. This mission marks nearly 12 years of the CSLI providing CubeSat developers rideshare opportunities to space via Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions.

“This 100th mission is extremely noteworthy because it highlights just how special and valuable CSLI is. Not only does the initiative provide real-life, hands-on experience to the next generation of space exploration professionals, it also adds tremendous value and moves NASA’s mission forward in meaningful ways,” said Jim Norman, director, Launch Services at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “I want to thank all the university students, faculty and staff, industry partners and NASA centers who have participated in this program for their contributions.”

Lucky 100—Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP)

HARP is a 3U CubeSat designed to measure the microphysical properties of atmospheric aerosols, cloud water and ice particles. It is a precursor for a new generation of imaging polarimeters to be used for the detailed measurements of aerosol and cloud properties in larger missions. The wide field-of-view imager splits three spatially identical images into three independent polarizer and detector arrays. This technique achieves simultaneous imagery of the three polarization states and is the key innovation to achieve a high polarimetric accuracy with no moving parts. The mission is expected to spend nearly a year in orbit with three months dedicated to technology demonstrations and an extended science data period of an additional seven months.  

Funded by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office, HARP launched Nov. 2, 2019, as part of the ELaNa 25 mission on Northrup Grumman’s 12th Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station.

** Space BD of Japan to assist launch of Cubesat built by team at Australia’s Curtin University: Japanese space startup Space BD to launch Curtin University CubeSats into orbit – Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia

Space BD Inc is the official service provider selected by JAXA in the area of ISS utilisation and satellite launch service.

Curtin University has been planning and developing the satellites named Binar-1 (1U CubeSat) and Binar-2 (3U CubeSat) since 2018. These satellites will be the first pair of satellites launched from Curtin University as well as the first from Western Australia.

The project is led by Professor Phil Bland at the Space Science and Technology Centre at Curtin University. Professor Bland, along with a team of 12 Curtin staff and student engineers have developed the miniaturised satellites.

See also: Curtin to test ‘mini’ satellite in orbit with European Space Agency –  Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-047 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT-OSCAR 85 Declared End of Mission
  • HuskySat-1 Update
  • Update from AMSAT President Clayton Coleman, W5PFG
  • Free Digital Copy of “Getting Started with Amateur Satellites” Available for New or Renewing Members
  • Apogee View – January/February 2020
  • 5 Tips on Etiquette and Good Manners on the FM Ham Radio Satellites
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for February 13, 2020
  • Upcoming ARISS Contacts
  • Upcoming AMSAT Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

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NASA awards $1M to 8 college student teams for lunar technology projects

An announcement from NASA last Friday:

Artemis Student Challenge:
NASA Selects University Teams to Build Technologies for the Moon’s Darkest Areas

Illustration of power, lighting and roving concepts operating in a lunar crater. Credits: NASA

Almost a quarter of a million miles away from home, the Moon’s permanently shadowed regions are the closest extraterrestrial water source. These craters have remained dark for billions of years, but student-developed technologies can help shine light on all they have to offer.

Through the competitive Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge and the Space Grant project, NASA has awarded nearly $1 million to eight university teams to build sample lunar payloads and demonstrate innovative ways to study the Moon’s darkest areas.

“It’s an exciting time for NASA and students across the country,” said Drew Hope, Game Changing Development program manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “Thanks to our partnership with the Office of STEM Engagement, this is the most money NASA has awarded in a student challenge directly connected to Artemis. I look forward to seeing the inventive designs come to life as well as how they can advance our exploration capabilities in permanently shadowed craters on the Moon.”

The selected teams will develop ways to collect data in and around permanently shadowed regions, generate wireless power for future infrastructure, enable autonomous mobility even in the most extreme environments, and more. Such systems could benefit NASA’s Artemis program and be used to study the Moon ahead of a human landing in 2024 or help establish a sustained presence by 2028.

The award values vary and are based on each team’s proposed concept and budget. The 2020 BIG Idea Challenge awardees are:


Arizona State University in Tempe – $84,333
Ball-shaped probes and a spring catapult capable of launching them from a lunar lander to different locations in and around a crater. The probes can collect and send data directly to the lander for several hours. Being able to quickly learn about a region on the Moon can help inform the potential for future human exploration as well as small rover deployments.

Colorado School of Mines in Golden with the University of Arizona in Tucson – $114,000
Working in permanently shadowed regions on the Moon and extracting water believed to be there will require a power source for lights and machinery. This wireless energy demonstration uses lasers to power small stationary receivers. To prove the concept of laser power beaming, several two-inch cubes covered in solar panels deploy from a lander to the surface and measure the amount of light received from a lander-mounted laser.

Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire – $83,000
Small and lightweight robot explorers that travel and work independently or as a group. Multiple rovers can connect to distribute power and form a tram-like system to navigate soft lunar terrain. The four-wheeled rover scouts can transport instruments to different locations near the Moon’s poles.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge – $163,900
A lightweight tower that extends approximately 100 feet from a lunar lander. The top of the tower serves as a payload platform for a variety of instruments. The tower could enhance lunar activities, serving as a communications relay between payloads inside a deep crater and a lander as well as imaging the lunar surface at a higher resolution than spacecraft in orbit around the Moon.

Michigan Technological University in Houghton – $161,074
A small rover to lay lightweight, superconducting cable that tethers to a lander as it traverses craters in permanently shadowed regions. Once in its final destination, the rover acts as a recharging hub and communication relay for other robots working in the area, providing continuous power without requiring direct sunlight.

Northeastern University in Boston – $90,889
This two-part system makes use of a small, legged rover (SCOUT) and support module (DOGHOUSE). At the crater’s rim, SCOUT will drop off DOGHOUSE and then autonomously navigate inside the permanently shadowed region to explore the terrain. DOGHOUSE acts as a charging station and a communication relay hub. This technology could be used to survey a site ahead of other robotic, or even human, operations.

Pennsylvania State University in State College – $145,933
An instrument to measure the composition of lunar soil in permanently shadowed regions. The technology uses a laser to determine the location and concentration of resources, such as water ice. This in-situ resource utilization prospecting work is needed to establish a sustained human presence on the Moon under Artemis.

University of Virginia in Charlottesville $123,596
A high-power laser attached to a lander that is located on the rim of a crater. The laser beams energy to a rover inside the crater, remotely delivering power. This technology could energize systems operating in the dark for extended periods of time, without requiring rovers to leave the region to recharge.


The grants will be used to develop and test the technologies in simulated environments over the next 10 months, demonstrating their readiness for a potential lunar mission as early as 2023. The teams will present the results of their research and development to a panel of NASA and industry experts at a face-to-face design review in November 2020.

“One of the most exciting things about this challenge is that several of the concepts, if proven to be viable as a result of these awards, could eventually be integrated and operated together on the surface of the Moon,” said Chad Rowe, acting Space Grant project manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These students are part of the Artemis generation and they are helping fulfill NASA’s mission needs today, while developing relevant hands-on experience that will prepare them for aerospace careers after graduation.”

The Game Changing Development program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate partnered with the Office of STEM Engagement’s Space Grant project to fund unique concepts that address near-term capability requirements to support exploration of permanently shadowed regions in-and-near the Moon’s polar regions. The additional funds contributed for the first time by the Office of STEM Engagement allow for larger awards, more opportunities for high-fidelity concept development, and enriched student participation in NASA’s missions by leveraging the vast network of institutions comprising the Space Grant consortia spanning every state, Puerto Rico and D.C.

For short synopses of the projects and team videos, visit:

For more information about the BIG Idea Challenge, visit:

NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge is one of several Artemis student challenges. To learn more about the others, visit:

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Feb.11.2020

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

** Arizona State Univ. Phoenix CubeSat set to deploy from ISS on Feb.12th. The first ASU undergraduate student built satellite, Phoenix will study Urban Heat Islands with observations of the earth using an infrared camera. The team welcomes help in visual tracking and amateur radio contacts.

After deployment, it will take some trial and error before we are able to confirm our spacecraft’s TLEs before we can comfortably predict its orbit. The more people who can help us spot our spacecraft, the sooner our operations phase can officially begin! If you would like to help listen for Phoenix, you can do so with the information below. 

If you think you’ve heard from Phoenix and you are a member of the SatNOGS network, please publish your observation on the Libre Space community page, and tag @sarah_srogers in the post.

ASU Phoenix Cubesat Diagram
Component diagram of the ASU Phoenix Cubesat.

See also Phoenix CubeSat upcoming deployment – Southgate Amateur Radio News

** Orbital Factory-2 communicates with the Univ. Texas at El Paso team that built the CubeSat in collaboration with Lockheed-Martin. The spacecraft was released into orbit via a Nanoracks deployment system on February 3rd  from the Northrop-Grumman Cygnus cargo vehicle after it departed from the ISS. UTEP Successfully Communicates With Satellite to Cap Monumental Project – Univ. Texas at El Paso

Joel Quintana, Ph.D., research assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a UTEP alumnus, said 25 students from various engineering disciplines worked on the OF-2 project throughout the course of two years. He was with a group of those students at a cSETR research space provided by the City of El Paso near the UTEP campus as they waited on notification from OF-2.

“Seeing their excitement when the first ping came in when they were able to communicate with the satellite as it orbited over El Paso was priceless,” Quintana said. “They leave this program knowing how to design, build and test spacecraft, making them really high in demand and industry experts.”

With this milestone reached, cSETR will now set off on a set of new initiatives including the development of spacecraft capabilities for on-orbit manufacturing, and planetary and lunar exploration. The center will conduct this work concurrently with its primary mission of training El Paso talent and cultivating a space technology workforce.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-040 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Clayton Coleman, W5PFG, Elected AMSAT President
  • Phoenix CubeSat Upcoming Deployment
  • New ISS Tour Video Goes Inside Cygnus NG-12
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution
  • HuskySat-1 Gains Enthusiastic Following
  • Robert Bankston, KE4AL, Proposes amsatLink Project
  • 10 US Schools Moved Forward in ARISS Selection Process
  • AMSAT at Yuma (Arizona) Hamfest, 14-15 February 2020
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Jeff Dillon – Cubesat to Mars22nd Annual International Mars Society Convention [October 17-20, 2019]

** NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge Crowdsources Ideas for Deep Space CubeSats

Pushing the boundaries of space technology, NASA’s first in-space competition invites the public to design, build and launch small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the Moon. Three winners from the ground competition, completed in 2017, are readying their CubeSats for launch on Artemis I, the first uncrewed flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft. Want to get in on the action? Additional teams can compete in the Deep Space Derby and Lunar Derby by securing their own launch opportunity. Explore more about NASA’s Cube Quest Centennial Challenge:

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Feb.4.2020

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

MakerSat-1 components for easy assembly. Credits: and

** After ISS departure, Cygnus resupply vehicle releases 14 CubeSats including several built by university groups:

The university satellites include:

A demo of the MakerSat 1 quick assembly:

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-033 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • HuskySat-1 Deployed, Telemetry Beacon Active
  • Free Digital Copy of “Getting Started with Amateur Satellites” Now Available for New or Renewing Members
  • Joe Spier, K6WAO, Resigns as AMSAT President
  • Melissa Pore To Be Honored at Hamcation February 2020
  • W1ANT Pro Satellite Tracker Announced
  • AMSAT Argentina Drifting APRS Buoy on 145.825 MHz
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for February 2020
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Upcoming AMSAT Events
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Judi Sandrock – Modular Smallsat Teaching Tools with Xinabox – Cold Star Project S02E17

Xinabox co-founder Judi Sandrock from South Africa is on the Cold Star Project with host Jason Kanigan, and we’re talking about their modular smallsat teaching tools.

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