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Cambridge CubeSat company wins Virgin Media Tech award

Mar, 03/18/2014 - 14:22

The Cambridge company 3D Cube Sat was one of the winners of the Virgin Media ‘Three New Things’ Technology Award.

The three winning businesses will each receive a package of mentoring and support, including the chance to meet with Virgin founder Richard Branson to discuss their business plans, networking opportunities and up to £25,000 worth of free business telecoms.

3D Cube Sat says it is “changing the economics of space”. CubeSat structures are the casings for tiny satellites. They currently sell for $2,500, but 3D Cube Sat has created a new space-resistant material that reduces the cost by 75%.

Virgin Media -  ‘Three New Things’ Award
http://startups.co.uk/virgin-media-announces-three-new-things-to-shape-face-of-technology/

FUNcube-1 Continuous Transponder Test

Mar, 03/18/2014 - 11:14

Final gluing of FUNcube-1 bolt by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG – Image credit Gerard Aalbers

On March 22, the FUNcube-1 (AO-73) CubeSat will be commanded into continuous transponder mode for one or two orbits so we can assess the effect of lower power being radiated by the sat on the battery temperature. We expect the satellite to be put into full time transponder mode (aka amateur mode) during the first morning pass on Saturday, March 22 over the UK, at approximately 0930 UT.

We are aware that the on/off timings for the transponder are not now ideal, due to seasonal changes. In the coming months the situation will get worse such that in June the transponder will only be available for very short periods in the Northern Hemisphere.

FUNcube-1 Launch Monitoring Station at the NRC Bletchley Park

We are therefore planning to alter the schedule such that the transponder is on continuously at weekends after approx 1900 UT on Fridays, to Sunday evening. This will give radio amateurs a greater opportunity to use the transponder. Unfortunately there is no way of automating this schedule, so its maintenance will rely on the availability of command stations.

Before implementing this schedule, it is necessary that we characterise the effect of maintaining transponder mode for long periods of time. We expect that the space craft will be slightly colder than when transmitting at full power, as the heat generated inside the spacecraft by the PA will be less.

FUNcube-1 (AO-73) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

We are concerned that this lowering of the temperature may bring the battery temp lower than is advisable. Its specification is that it should not be charged if its temperature is below -5 degrees, or some damage might be done to the battery. Currently the minimum temperature we see that the battery reaches is approximately -2 degrees.

If you notice that the transponder is open on March 22, please feel free to use it.

Please note that we have learnt from experience that commanding the sat is not an exact science, and that not all commands sent are received by the satellite, probably due to interference. We will announce on AMSAT-BB and on the FUNcube web site the progress of our tests. We would be very grateful if as many listening stations as possible receive the telemetry (TLM) using the Dashboard software and forward it to the Data Warehouse on Saturday, March 22. Thank you.

73 Jim, G3WGM

FUNcube website http://www.funcube.org.uk/

FUNcube Yahoo Group http://amsat-uk.org/funcube/yahoo-group/

FUNcube Forum http://forum.funcube.org.uk/

WRAPS Antenna Rotor System Introduction

Lun, 03/17/2014 - 23:26

WRAPS Portable Satellite Antenna Rotator System – Copyright ARRL

In the first of four videos, Mark Spencer, WA8SME, explains the operation of the amateur radio WRAPS antenna rotor system.

The WRAPS system points a lightweight antenna towards a passing amateur radio satellite (or weather or other satellite), facilitating the capture of telemetry or participation in conversations via satellite.

The remaining three WRAPS videos demonstrate the operation of WRAPS to capture telemetry from the FUNcube satellite using the SatPC32 software and the FUNcube Dashboard.

Watch WRAPS Antenna Rotor System Introduction Video 1

Watch WRAPS Setup for a Pass Video 2

WRAPS FUNCube Pass Video 3

WRAPS FUNCube Telemetry Overview Video 4

Thanks to the ARRL and WA8SME a PDF of the QST article on the WRAPS antenna rotor system can be downloaded from
http://amsat-uk.org/2013/12/12/wraps-a-portable-satellite-antenna-rotator-system/

Other satellite videos are available on the AMSAT-NA YouTube channel at
http://www.youtube.com/user/AMSATNA/videos

HamTV received on 2395 MHz

Lun, 03/17/2014 - 08:42

Tetsurou Satou JA0CAW reports receiving the blank test Digital TV transmission from the HamTV equipment on the International Space Station (ISS) on its new frequency of 2395 MHz. He was using a 65cm dish antenna with a low noise amplifier (LNA) and down-convertor.

Watch a short video of reception at an elevation of 76 degrees on March 17, 2014 at 0139 UT

Read the HamTV overview by Gaston Bertels ON4WF http://tinyurl.com/HamTVoverview

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

Join the ISS HamTV Yahoo Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HamTV

Webstream of the TV transmissions http://batc.tv/ch_live.php?ch=4

ARISS-EU HamTV Bulletins http://www.ariss-eu.org/

HamTV on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Hamtvproject

FCC Invites Public Comment on 10-10.5 GHz Petition

Lun, 03/17/2014 - 00:17

The ARRL report the FCC has invited public comment on a Petition for Rule Making (RM-11715) that would make a significant portion of the 10.0 to 10.5 GHz band available for wireless broadband services.

The Petition by Mimosa Networks Inc proposes a band plan for 10.0 to 10.5 GHz that, it says, would protect frequencies most often used by radio amateurs. The petition hinges on FCC adoption of rule changes that would put the 10 GHz band under Subpart Z of the Commission’s Part 90 rules. Subpart Z currently sets out regulations governing wireless licensing, technical standards, and operational standards in the 3650 to 3700 MHz band.

“The application of the coordination procedures and requirements provided in Subpart Z will ensure that Amateur Radio operations in the band will not be disrupted,” Mimosa told the FCC. “In addition, as a further safeguard, Mimosa proposes a band plan for the 10.0-10.5 GHz band that would protect frequencies in the band that are most often used by Amateur Radio operators.” The proposed band plan would specify 10.350 to 10.370 GHz as an “Amateur Calling Band,” and 10.450 to 10.500 GHz for Amateur-Satellite operations in the midst of 21 wireless broadband channels and a small guard band.

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, is quoted as saying “Mimosa’s proposed power limit of 55 dBW EIRP is very high, particularly for point-to-multipoint operations, and no mechanism has been proposed for ensuring that harmful interference to amateur operations does not occur.”

Read the full ARRL story at
http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-invites-public-comment-on-petition-affecting-10-10-5-ghz-band

Petition for Rule Making RM-11715
http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022310834

Interested parties may comment on RM-11715 using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).
http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/hotdocket/list

FUNcube-1 Transponder Test March 22

Sáb, 03/15/2014 - 20:34

FUNcube-1 (AO-73) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

When in sunlight FUNcube-1 is normally in “Educational Mode” (transponder off with high power beacon) but on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at approximately 0930 UT the FUNcube team are planning to switch to “Amateur Mode” (transponder on with low power beacon) for at least one whole orbit.

The aim of the switch on March 22 is to check the effect on the satellite of continuous “Amateur Mode”, especially battery temperature.

FUNcube website http://www.funcube.org.uk/

FUNcube Yahoo Group http://amsat-uk.org/funcube/yahoo-group/

FUNcube Forum http://forum.funcube.org.uk/

Satellite changes in French License

Sáb, 03/15/2014 - 15:50

The minutes of the March 7 meeting between the French National Society REF and the communications regulator ARCEP have been published.

435-438 MHz is now allocated to the Amateur-satellite service for both Earth-to-Space and Space-to-Earth in Region 1 and territories in Region 2. Due to a previous error in the national frequency table French amateurs did not have Space-to-Earth for this band in their license.

The 2400-2415 MHz band is now allocated to radio stations in the Amateur-satellite service in French territories in Region 2.

Regarding the 1.2 GHz band the REF wondered if the Galileo GPS satellites, which broadcast across 1260 to 1300 MHz, may call into question the allocation of this portion of the band to the Amateur Services. The ARCEP said they would review this matter and provide a response.

The future of 2.4 and 5.7 GHz bands were also discussed. ARCEP said the 2300-2400 MHz band is subject to the European Commission harmonization work for the mobile service and the bands 5350-5470 MHz and 5725-5925 MHz are designed to future expansion of wireless internet. However, no decision has been taken to date. Compatibility studies on these frequencies are underway in the CEPT.

The REF report the ARCEP had shown an interest in the ARISS school contacts which have a high educational value.

French radio amateurs have gained access to 472-479 kHz with 1 watt output in Region 1 and territories in Region 2. Discussions also covered the possibility of an amateur allocation across the whole of 1.8-2.0 MHz and possible future allocations at 5.5 MHz and 70 MHz.

Minutes of the meeting between ARCEP and REF March 7, 2014 in Google English
http://tinyurl.com/REF-ARCEP-Minutes-2014-03-07

REF in Google English http://tinyurl.com/FranceREF

A 2006 Galileo GPS article by Peter Blair G3LTF highlighted the problems this system could cause, see http://www.southgatearc.org/articles/galileo.htm

LituanicaSAT-1 CubeSat Update

Vie, 03/14/2014 - 20:51

LituanicaSAT-1 Camera and FM Voice Transponder

Laurynas Maciulis LY1LM provides this update on the Lithuanian CubeSat LituanicaSAT-1 which was deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) on February 28, 2014.

LituanicaSAT-1

Thanks to numerous beacon reports from W7KKE and DK3WN we established that periodic brown outs of our satellite that started to appear early last week are most probably caused by EPS falling to critical mode after battery voltage falls down to 6.5 V. This is most probably associated to some technical problem of solar panels, consequently generating less power than we planned. The satellite returns to safe mode when battery charges again to 7.2 V. This is indicated by appearance of the strong FM beacon signal at 437.275 MHz.

We are trying to turn off the beacon temporarily to charge battery to nominal level and resume nominal operations. During today’s 05:00 UTC pass over Lithuania we seem to have succeeded in switching off the beacon so You might not hear it for some time. If everything goes according to plan, system should resume to nominal mode when 7.4 V battery voltage is reached. You will notice that when You can hear periodic 9k6 FSK packets at 437.550 MHz.

LituanicaSAT-1 Stack

Your further reports will be very appreciated.

We still have strong hopes to turn on the FM transponder when things get better, for all you guys to try it.

73!
Laurynas Maciulis LY1LM
LituanicaSAT-1 systems engineer

The tiny satellite is just 10x10x10 cm with a mass of 1.090 kg yet it has a VGA camera and a 145/435 MHz FM voice transponder, designed and built by Lithuanian radio amateurs.

The prototype of the FM repeater has been operating in the home of its designer Žilvinas Batisa LY3H in Elektrėnai, Lithuania. Further information at
http://ly3h.epalete.com/?p=303

The communications payload comprises:
• FM Morse Code Beacon 437.275 MHz LY5N
• FM Voice Repeater 145.950 MHz uplink (PL 67 Hz CTCSS) 435.180 MHz downlink
• AX.25 Packet Radio 145.850 MHz uplink 437.550 MHz downlink 9600 baud FSK, FM

Links
• Submit reports at http://www.kosmonautai.lt/en/data-submission/
• Web Google English http://tinyurl.com/KosmonautaiLituanicaSAT-1
• Wiki Google English http://tinyurl.com/WikiLituanicaSAT-1
• Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Lituanicasat1

KickSat Sprites set for launch March 30

Jue, 03/13/2014 - 17:16

KickSat Sprite satellites deployed – Image by Ben Bishop VK2FBRB

Zac Manchester KD2BHC has released this update on KickSat which will carry 104 tiny Sprite satellites into a 325×315 km 51.5 degree inclination orbit. The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS 3 mission is planned for somewhere between March 30 and April 2.

KickSat 437 MHz Sprite Satellite

The launch will be from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and you can watch it live on NASA TV, which will also be streaming online on Ustream.

Here’s a rough sequence of events:

  • Falcon 9 launch (0:00)
  • Falcon 9 upper stage separation (+0:03)
  • Dragon capsule separation (+0:10)
  • KickSat deployment from Falcon 9 upper stage (+0:16)
  • KickSat powers on and begins transmitting telemetry (+1:06)
  • Sprite deployment (+16 days and 16 minutes after launch)

The Sprites will be deployed by a timer exactly 16 days after KickSat is deployed from the launch vehicle. The timing was arranged with NASA to avoid interference with ISS operations.

Once KickSat turns on its radio, you should be able to pick it up with very basic Ham radio gear. It will be transmitting telemetry packets in AX.25 format on 437.505 MHz with 1200 baud AFSK modulation. I’ll post KickSat’s orbital elements here and on the project wiki, which will also have more information on setting up a receiving station. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Thanks for your support!

Zac Manchester KD2BHC

This video by Ben Bishop VK2FBRB shows the Sprite deployment

Each Sprite has a microcontroller, radio, and solar cells and is capable of carrying single-chip sensors, such as thermometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and accelerometers.

CRS-3 Dragon spacecraft is mounted on the Falcon 9 rocket

All the Sprites satellites operate on a single frequency of 437.240 MHz and use Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). The transmitter runs 10 mW output of Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) modulated binary data with each data bit modulated as a 511 bit Pseudo-Random Number (PRN) sequence. The ITU emission designator is 50K0G1D. The KickSat CubeSat has downlinks on 437.505 MHz and 2401-2436.2 MHz.

Mass Launch of 437 MHz Satellites http://amsat-uk.org/2014/03/03/mass-launch-of-437-mhz-satellites/

KickSat Sprite Ground Station by Andy Thomas G0SFJ
http://kicksat.wordpress.com/support/kicksat-ground-station/

British Interplanetary Society: Sprite Technical Summary
http://www.bis-space.com/2013/03/09/9301/kicksat-technical-summary

KickSat on KickStarter
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zacinaction/kicksat-your-personal-spacecraft-in-space/

New Satellite Telemetry Decoder Apps Released

Mié, 03/12/2014 - 17:11

LitSat-1 Telemetry Decoder

Mike Rupprecht DK3WN has released four new satellite telemetry decoders Apps.

They are for:
• LitSat-1, 145.845 MHz, 9k6 FSK, beacon, KISS file
• LituanicaSat-1, 437.550 MHz, 9k6 FSK, KISS file
• STARS-2, 437.245 MHz, CW as text
• TeikyoSat-3, 437.450 MHz, CW as text

The download page in Google English is at http://tinyurl.com/SatSoftwareDK3WN/

In German http://www.dk3wn.info/software.shtml

Amateur radio satellite operation from Isle of Lewis

Mié, 03/12/2014 - 16:32

GS3PYE/P

Camb-Hams will be operating on the amateur radio satellites using the call sign GS3PYE/P from the Isle of Lewis (Grid Square IO68UL, IOTA EU-010) on April 26 to May 3, 2014.

The Camb-Hams have been activating the Scottish Isles each year since 2008 and will be travelling to the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Outer Hebrides in 2014. Thirteen operators will be active on all bands and many modes from 4m to 80m, 2m & 70cm for Satellites and 2m & 23cm for EME.

The HF bands will be covered by five simultaneous stations, while the 6m & 4m stations will have a great take-off towards the UK and Europe from the island’s northern tip in IO68 square. 2m and 23cm EME will be available with a portable low-ERP Yagi system, mainly focussed on JT modes. 2m and 70cm will be available for portable satellite operations.

Contest operations will take place in the RSGB 70MHz UKAC on April 29.

The group will be active on the major social networks before, during and after the trip. You can check on progress or interact with the operators via their blog at dx.camb-hams.com or through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube [links below]. Previous trips have generated some great audio and video recordings of the GS3PYE/P signal from around the world.

Please email skeds-2014@camb-hams.com to arrange skeds on the more challenging bands and modes. VHF and EME skeds will also be made via ON4KST and N0UK’s EME Chat.

The Camb-Hams were formed in early 2006 as the social and public-facing side of the Cambridgeshire Repeater Group (CRG), which was formed out of the PyeTelecommunications Radio Club.

The Camb-Hams are made up of people from many of, but not exclusively, the various Cambridgeshire radio groups including CUWS (Cambridge University Wireless Society), CDARC (Cambridge and District Amateur Radio Club) and Cambridgeshire RAYNET. It provides a common forum for us all to work together and has been very successful in increasing the activity in the Cambridgeshire area.

Camb-Hams Amateur Radio Van

We meet on-air via the CRG’s VHF and UHF FM Voice repeaters, and at regular monthly Pye and Pint nights held from 19:00-22:00 on the 1st Wednesday of each month at the White Horse, Barton http://www.thewhitehorseinnbarton.co.uk

Our contesting side, using the CRG callsigns G3PYE & G6PYE, aims to provide an opportunity for non-contest operators to have a go, whilst putting a concerted effort into entering a particular contest.

Camb-Hams frequently travel and have ‘DXpeditioned’ to the Scottish Isles of Mull, Harris, Monachs, Arran, Lunga, Staffa and Iona, as well as organising social trips to many of the major European rallies. Since 2010, the Camb-Hams have been active and increasingly successful in the RSGB UKAC, Field Day and AFS contests.

Web http://dx.camb-hams.com/
Twitter http://twitter.com/g3pye
Facebook http://facebook.com/CambHams
YouTube http://youtube.com/CambHams

Attracting newcomers to Ham Radio
http://www.southgatearc.org/news/december2012/attracting_newcomers_to_ham_radio.htm

Keeping New Radio Hams
http://www.southgatearc.org/news/january2013/keeping_new_radio_hams.htm

ISS HamTV to switch to 2395 MHz on March 15/16

Mié, 03/12/2014 - 14:56

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

The Digital HamTV transmitter on the International Space Station will change frequency to 2395 MHz on the weekend of March 15/16.

HamTV Antennas at ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD in Casale Monferrato, Italy

HamTV Bulletin 9:

The Ham Video transmitter commissioning steps 1 and 2 were performed as planned. Working together  with ESA / B.USOC, the ARISS team in Matera did an excellent job.

Saturday April 8, four configurations tested with antenna 41.
Sunday April 9, six configurations tested with antenna 43.

Both ARISS L/S-band antennas are operational in S-band. Reports from ground stations during blank transmissions will allow further analysis of their performance and radiation characteristics in space.

Recordings of signals received during commissioning steps at Matera ground station will be made available on the BATC server.

In Livorno, Ham Video manufacturer Kayser Italia received excellent signals with a 1.2m dish. In Casale Monferrato, the ARISS telebridge station also received good signals with the same type of antenna.

A basic amateur radio station that should be able to receive HamTV from ISS – Image AMSAT-Italia

Recordings can be viewed with VLC software. Please select 16/9 image format.

Presently, Ham Video is transmitting permanently a “blank” image and no audio in configuration 1:
* ARISS antenna 43
* Frequency 2422 MHz
* Symbol rate 1.3 Ms/s
This blank transmission will continue till the end of the week.

Next week blank transmission is planned with antenna 43 on 2395 MHz and 1.3 Ms/s. The frequency changeover will be done Saturday 15 or Sunday 16 March. All Ham Video frequencies have been notified to ITU as ISS – ARISS.

BATC Webstream of ISS HamTV by Stefan VE4NSA March 8, 2014

Reports on reception of blank transmissions are very welcome. Reports can be filed via this webpage: http://www.spaceflightsoftware.com/ARISS_FSTV/submit.php

Participants using the Tutioune receiving software can record as well as stream detailed parameters of the received signal. Please see: http://www.vivadatv.org/

Blank transmissions will continue till the next commissioning step, which is planned April 12, 2014. We will announce configurations in due time.

Thank you for your participation to the Ham Video testing campaign.

73,
Gaston Bertels, ON4WF
ARISS Europe chair

Read the HamTV overview by Gaston Bertels ON4WF http://tinyurl.com/HamTVoverview

Join the ISS HamTV Yahoo Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HamTV

Webstream of the TV transmissions http://batc.tv/ch_live.php?ch=4

ARISS-EU HamTV Bulletins http://www.ariss-eu.org/

HamTV on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Hamtvproject

434 MHz XABEN and other balloon launches go ahead today

Lun, 03/10/2014 - 22:17

High altitude balloon 434 MHz trackers made by Chris M6EDF

Steve G8KHW planned to launch five balloons XABEN64-68 carrying 434 MHz payloads from Elsworth on Wednesday, March 12. The permit for them arrived at the last minute on Wednesday morning. Technically the flights need a permit despite being 100g balloons as they are on a line rather than mounted in the neck.

The balloons may have a range of 200-500 km so should be receivable on a SSB (USB) radio over much of the UK or can be received World-Wide using the SUWS WebSDR

Steve says: The plan is to launch 5 identical payloads on 5 identical 100g balloons as near identically filled as I can manage in order to see the sort of spread of burst altitudes. The balloons will be launched as quick as I can fill them and launch them – so its likely that all 5 balloons will be in the air at the same time.

With all those flights I’m going to need some help tracking them – so lots of listeners would be appreciated. Callsigns and Frequencies to follow on the UKHAS Mailing List – but all will be on 434 MHz with standard 50 Baud 470 Hz 7N1 RTTY.

SSDV picture from a PIE balloon – Image credit Dave Akerman M6RPI

XABEN64-68 Callsigns and Frequencies (USB):
- uX3 434.250
- uX0 434.350
- uX1 434.400
- uX2 434.450
// skipping 434.500 to avoid BALYOLO
- uX5 435.550

There should be a launch from Westcott, Buckinghamshire on Wednesday at 12.00 Callsign: BALYOLO Frequency 434.500 MHz.

Project Ascend are launching Wednesday at 0900 from Cockermouth,Cumbria. They say please listen out for us on 434.450 MHz USB,  Callsign HAB55331. Further information at http://projectascend.co.uk/

Dave Akerman M6RPI/M0RPI says he’s planning to launch at around 2pm on Thursday, it’ll be a regular payload up-burst-down, probably with 2 trackers. The launch will take place from the field behind Dave’s new house just north of Ross-On-Wye, so receivers in the west of England will be particularly welcome. No SSDV just 50 baud RTTY telemetry. There will be live video streaming of the launch and chase at http://www.batc.tv/streams/m0rpi_chase

The two payloads are BUZZ and ZURG.  Both 50 baud 7 bits no parity 2 stop bits, 480Hz shift. BUZZ is on 434.600 MHz and ZURG on 434.650 MHz.  Former is an rfm22b and latter an NTX2 so they will drift somewhat.

On Thursday, March 13 Adam Cudworth will be launching HABE 12 from Worcestershire on 434.200 MHz.

James Coxon M6JCX launching a PICO balloon on 434.301 MHz USB

Check the IRC channel for chat about the launches on irc.freenode.net #highaltitude
A web client is available at http://webchat.freenode.net/?channels=highaltitude

Online real-time tracking of balloons
http://spacenear.us/tracker/

Listen to the balloons online using the Southampton University Wireless Society (SUWS) 434 MHz WebSDR located near Basingstoke (51.294N, 1.131W)
http://amsat-uk.org/2013/12/28/websdr-for-434-and-1296-mhz/

Beginners Guide to Tracking using dl-fldigi software
http://ukhas.org.uk/guides:tracking_guide

To get up-to-date information on balloon flights subscribe to the UKHAS Mailing List by sending a blank email to this address: ukhas+subscribe@googlegroups.com

CubeSat Propulsion at George Washington University

Lun, 03/10/2014 - 19:57

First firing of synchronized 3-channel Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster subsystem at NASA Ames Research Center Spaceshop, August 2013

Samudra Haque N3RDX is involved in developing a Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster (μCAT) propulsion system for CubeSats.

The Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MpNL, http://www.mpnl.seas.gwu.edu/), of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, of George Washington University (Washington, DC), announced at the 2014 IEEE Aerospace Conference (Big Sky, MT), a ground breaking electric propulsion application opportunity for the global Small Satellite community: the On-orbit Micro-propulsion eXperiment Program (OMXP) started on March 1, 2014.

The program is initially targeted to educational institutions with pico/nano/micro-satellites who are seeking propulsion systems for their space missions. The MpNL has ongoing research activity in scalable, small, efficient and safer electric propulsion systems, and is preparing flight hardware for the first on-orbit demonstration mission, of a 4-channel Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster (μCAT) subsystem, in 2015 onboard a 1.5U CubeSat that is fully funded. μCAT subsystems were tested and evaluated at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 in August, 2013.

GWU-ARC Mapers Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster PhoneSat Experiment

The OMXP program is intended to support further technology readiness level raising exercises of the current subsystem and its more capable next generation derivatives that will continue to be researched and prototyped at MpNL, by partnering with experimental spacecraft designers, as early adopters, seeking to add capabilities to their space missions such as: station keeping, orbit maintenance, orbit adjustment, attitude control, orbit transfer, in-space propulsion, deorbit system and proximity operations, or other uses. The program will actively support the co-development of microthruster subsystems compatible with the emerging 3U-6U CubeSat standards, and where practical, for larger bus designs up to 50 Kg mass.

Academic institutions/affiliated groups are invited to propose, as Joint Research Partner, collaborative projects where μCAT or its next generation derivatives can be utilized on a Space mission, in lieu of an affordable cost-recovery agreement for parts, and through the execution of collaborative joint agreements for intellectual property rights, data collection, reporting, publication, and any other issues of mutual interest.

1-ch uCAT subsystem by Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Lab (c) 2013 Samudra Haque N3RDX

All academic institutions/affiliated groups are welcome to apply. International institutions may be subject to compliance with requirements of applicable U.S. export laws.

The MpNL sincerely appreciates support by industry partners for the On-orbit Micro-propulsion eXperiment Program, and welcomes interested participants, subject to compliance with University regulations on sponsorship.

Samudra Haque N3RDX
Ph.D Candidate
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
The George Washington University
samudra@gwu.edu
(202) 812-3325

UK CubeSat Weekend: March 29-30, 2014

Lun, 03/10/2014 - 18:21

A Typical CubeSat

The UK CubeSat Weekend, taking place at Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell Didcot, will allow members of the public to work together to design, build and balloon launch a flight ready CubeSat engineering model, and a flight model suitable for launch into low earth orbit.

The purpose of the weekend is to demonstrate that amateur groups with no experience of spacecraft design or assembly can design, build and fly. Participants are invited to register teams of two to five members each, to build and test the CubeSat.

Objectives:
- Assemble and program a PocketSpacecraft.com ScoutArray
- Test and optionally improve its functionality on the bench
- Integrate into a CubeSat
- Test the functionality on a tethered balloon

The event takes place at the Satellite Applications Catapult, Electron Building, Fermi Avenue, Harwell Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QR. Registration details at https://sa.catapult.org.uk/cubesat-weekend

OSCAR-11 30th Birthday Report

Lun, 03/10/2014 - 13:27

UOSAT-2 – OSCAR-11

OSCAR-11 (AKA UoSAT-2 and UO-11) celebrated its 30th birthday in space on 01 March! It was designed, built and launched within a period of six months, using commercially available ‘off the shelf’ components (COTS). Once again, congratulations to Professor Sir Martin Sweeting G3YJO, his team at the University of Surrey and the groups of radio amateurs who also contributed to the project.

This report covers the period from 01 January 2013 to 05 March 2014. During this time there have been no significant changes apart from the gradual drift of the on-board clock. There was also an advance of one day in the displayed date. This was caused by a known leap year problem in the date chip, which has always existed since launch. Owing to the large accumulated time/date error 29 February 2012 on the satellite occurred in January 2013 on Earth!  The satellite has been transmitting on a regular cycle of 10.35 days on followed by 10.35 days off.

Good copy has been obtained obtained from decoded telemetry frames and many reports have been posted on the DCARR general satellite status website http://oscar.dcarr.org/

The satellite continues to be subjected to eclipses during each orbit, resulting in weaker signals at those times. During the winter in the UK the evening passes were in the Earth’s shadow, and very weak signals have been received, which could not be demodulated and could be only detected with the receiver in CW mode . As the longer daylight hours of summer approach, the evening passes in the UK should gradually become clear of eclipses, resulting in stronger signals. Eclipses are expected to continue until 2019.

The on-board clock gained 98 seconds during the 14 month reporting period, which is comparable with the 60 seconds gain per year when the satellite was launched. There is however a large accumulated error of 307.54090 days slow. This was caused mainly by the clock stopping during eclipses, when there was also an unknown drain on the power supply. The units of the least significant digit correspond approximately to seconds (0.86 seconds actually).

UOSAT 2 / OSCAR-11 with Dave Brock UoS kneeling Christine Sweeting G6APF and Neville Bean G8NOB

At the present time, while OSCAR-11 is operating in a predictable way, please DO NOT send reports or files by e-mail. However, could all listeners continue to enter their reports on the general satellite status website http://oscar.dcarr.org/ . This is a very convenient and easy to use facility, which shows the current status of all the amateur satellites, and is of use to everyone. Reports around the expected times of switch-on and switch-off are of special interest, especially for times 13:00 to 18:00 and 22:00 to 08:00 UTC, to when the satellite is out-of-range in the UK .

The VHF beacon frequency is 145.826 MHz.  AFSK FM ASCII Telemetry. The satellite is operating in the default mode, controlled by the watchdog timer, with a cycle time of 20.7 days. 10.35 days on followed by 10.35 days off.

An extended version of this report is available on my website, and new listeners to OSCAR-11 should read this for
further information. The URL is http://www.g3cwv.co.uk/oscar11.htm

Martin Sweeting G3YJO testing the UOSAT-2 UO-11 digitalker

This page contains links to the report, a short audio clip to help you identify the satellite and a file of recent telemetry received. The website also contains an archive of news & telemetry data which is updated from time to time, and details about using a soundcard or hardware demodulators for data capture. There is also software for capturing data, and decoding ASCII telemetry.

The easiest way to check whether OSCAR-11 is operational is to look at the General Satellite Status website
http://oscar.dcarr.org/index.php .

If you place this bulletin on a terrestrial packet network, please use the bulletin identifier $BID:U2RPT159.CWV, to
prevent duplication.

73 Clive G3CWV xxxxx@amsat.org (please replace the x’s by g3cwv)

OSCAR-11 / UOSAT-2 Celebrates 30 Years in Orbit
http://amsat-uk.org/2014/03/05/oscar-11-uosat-2-celebrates-30-years-in-orbit/

OSCAR-11 page on the DK3WN satellite blog at http://www.dk3wn.info/p/?cat=47

SSTL Blog – Happy 30th Birthday to UOSAT-2
http://www.sstl.co.uk/Blog/March-2014/Happy-30th-Birthday-to-UoSAT-2-

OSCAR-9 and OSCAR-11 TV News Reports
http://amsat-uk.org/2011/10/30/oscar-9-and-oscar-11-tv-news-reports/

BBC Micro ASTRID UoSAT receiver and AMSAT-UK Software Library
http://amsat-uk.org/2011/12/11/bbc-micro-and-amsat-uk-software-library/

A chat with Bob Twiggs KE6QMD, father of the CubeSat

Dom, 03/09/2014 - 23:12

First-MOVE CubeSat students with Bob Twiggs KE6QMD

Radio amateur Bob Twiggs KE6QMD is interviewed by Stephen Clark in Spaceflight Now.

Read the interview at http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1403/08cubesats/

The team behind the recently launched $50sat PocketQube programmed the satellite’s FM CW beacon to send “TNX KE6QMD” to thank their mentor Bob Twiggs KE6QMD.

$50sat Ham Radio Challenge
http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2014/february/$50sat_ham_radio_challenge.htm

Radio amateurs receive NASA ISEE-3 / ICE Spacecraft

Dom, 03/09/2014 - 16:42

Radio amateurs have received signals over a distance of 43 million km from the NASA ISEE-3 / ICE deep space probe which was retired from service in 1997.

AMSAT-DL have released this statement:

ISEE-3 – ICE Spacecraft – Image credit NASA

On March 1st and 2nd, 2014 radio amateurs were able to detect the beacon signal from the retired NASA deep space probe ICE (International Cometary Explorer) at the Bochum Observatory (Germany). After some changes to the ground equipment and aligning the receive antenna to the predicted position in the sky, the beacon signal could positively be identified due to its frequency, the position in the sky and the frequency shift due to the radial velocity (Doppler shift).

For this detection the 20m radio telescope from the Bochum Observatory was used. In 2003, AMSAT-DL converted this former industrial monument into a fully functional groundstation for deep space probes. Since 2009 the facility is being used by volunteers almost full time as ground receive station for data from the STEREO mission with its two spaceprobes monitoring the sun from different viewing angles.

The International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) was launched in 1978 and became the first spacecraft to orbit the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange point, measuring the interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and the Sun. It was the first spacecraft to detect the stream of particles (“solar wind”) approaching Earth. In 1982, the spacecraft was renamed the “International Cometary Explorer” (ICE) and diverted to the Moon, where its gravitational pull placed ICE on a heliocentric orbit. In 1985, the comet Giacobini-Zinner was visited (the first time a comet had been encountered by a spacecraft), followed by observation of Halley’s Comet in 1986.

Amateur Radio Facility at Bochum

While the instrumentation on board was still functional and fuel for more trajectory maneuvers was available, support for the ICE mission was terminated in 1997, though the spacecraft transmitter was left on. It was last detected by the NASA Deep Space Network in 2008. Its orbit however results in the spacecraft returning to Earth-Moon space in August of 2014. A small propulsive maneuver and lunar flyby could allow ICE to be directed into an Earth-Sun L1 halo orbit and perhaps resume a science mission, depending on instrument health. However in February 2014 a NASA study determined that the required resources to contact the spacecraft were not available anymore and due to budgetary constraints no further contact attempts were planned. In light of the recent observations and the available facilities in Bochum, additional studies about the economic feasibility to add a suitable uplink are being done.

We would like to thank Jeremy Bauman from KinetX Aerospace (Tempe AZ, USA) for providing the ICE trajectory solution which was essential in finding the spacecraft and Jon D. Giorgini from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena CA, USA) for his support.

AMSAT-DL
Dr. Achim Vollhardt DH2VA
email: ICEteam at amsat-dl.org

ISEE-3 ICE spacecraft signal spectrum recorded on March 2, 2014 at 1822 UT using the 20m dish antenna of Bochum Observatory, Germany. Range 43M km, azimuth 230°, elevation 49°. Average of 2 spectra spanning 2.1 seconds. With a bin bandwidth of 1.6 Hz, the SNR of 15.8 dB equates to a CNR of 17.8 dB. Indicated frequency is relative to the programmed center frequency of 2217.5 MHz of the measurement equipment.

The satellite carries Redundant S-band transponders, each with 5 Watt RF output but it is now only transmitting a carrier signal. The following information is from the ISEE-3/ICE Telecommunications Summary http://mdkenny.customer.netspace.net.au/ISEE-3.pdf

Transponder A:
2090.66 MHz RHCP uplink, command or ranging
2270.40 MHz RHCP downlink, telemetry or ranging

Transponder B:
2041.95 MHz LHCP uplink, command
2217.50 MHz LHCP downlink, telemetry

Transmit antenna: medium gain with dual inputs for simultaneous right and left hand circular polarization downlink, 8 rows of 4 elements, 7 dBi, ±6° beamwidth, multibeam, electronically steerable, four lobe, omni directional coverage in azimuth

Receive antenna: 2042 MHz, intermediate gain, 1 row of 4 elements, 0 dBi, ±45° beamwidth

Read the Planetary Society ISEE-3/ICE post at
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2014/02070836-isee-3.html

ISEE-3/ICE Telecommunications Summary
http://mdkenny.customer.netspace.net.au/ISEE-3.pdf

ISEE-3/ICE on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ISEE3returns

Can Radio Hams Receive NASA’s ISEE-3/ICE ?
http://amsat-uk.org/2014/02/07/can-radio-hams-receive-nasas-isee-3ice/

LitSat-1 Transponder Test Successful

Dom, 03/09/2014 - 11:56

LitSat-1 CubeSat

The 435/145 MHz SSB/CW linear transponder on the Lithuanian  amateur radio CubeSat LitSat-1, call sign LY1LS, was successfully tested on Sunday, March 9.

LitSat-1 was deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, February 28 at 0730 UT by astronaut Koichi Wakata KC5ZTA.

Listen to the recording made by Mike Rupprecht DK3WN http://www.dk3wn.info/p/?p=42732

LitSat-1 Transponder – Mike Rupprecht DK3WN

LitSat-1 frequencies:

Inverting linear transponder for SSB/CW communications
• Uplink 435.135-435.165 MHz
• Downlink 145.935-145.965 MHz

The team list a CW beacon but it appears the beacon was not active during the test.

AX.25 packet radio transceiver
• Uplink 435.550 MHz
• Downlink 145.850 MHz

Facebook LitSat-1 Lituanica8 https://www.facebook.com/Lituanica80

LitSat-1 Palydovas https://www.facebook.com/palydovas

President Congratulates Lithuanian Amateur Radio CubeSat Builders
http://amsat-uk.org/2014/01/12/president-congratulates-amateur-radio-cubesat-builders/

Satellite TLE Object ID’s

Sáb, 03/08/2014 - 23:34

Nico Janssen PA0DLO reports the process of producing Object ID’s for newly launched satellites has changed recently.

Writing on the AMSAT Bulletin Board (AMSAT-BB) he says:

It seems that the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) has changed some of their policies lately. After the launch of multiple small satellites late last year it took a long time to get them all identified. Apparently they don’t want to leave all the TBAs in their database for a long time, so now they use a different approach: they randomly assign the names of all satellites of a launch to the observed objects and then wait for reactions from the users of the satellites to see if the assignments are correct.

This is how e.g. the Cubesats, that recently were launched from the ISS, got ‘identified’ only a few days after their launch. So of course now we find that some identifications are wrong.

Doppler measurements clearly show that the following IDs are correct:
Object 39568, 1998-067EM, is LitSat 1
Object 39569, 1998-067EN, is LituanicaSat 1.

I am trying to get these corrected.

In the past the policy was to assign the ‘A’ object to the main payload of a launch. Secundary payloads, like Cubesats, would then get ‘B’, ‘C’, etc. So if the main payload initially was linked to the wrong TLE set, this required some swapping of TLE sets some time after the launch. Now they have decided to prevent this confusion by simply leaving the main payload assigned to another object than ‘A’ if required. Therefore the GPM satellite now is assigned to 2014-009C and this will not change anymore.

Satellite TLE Lottery Begins http://amsat-uk.org/2014/03/01/satellite-tle-lottery-begins/

Satellite Tracking http://amsat-uk.org/beginners/satellite-tracking/