New Amateur Satellites – AggieSat and Bevo-2

Aggie Sat was launched from the ISSA package of two satellites carrying Amateur Radio payloads has been deployed into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a collaborative Texas A&M and University of Texas at Austin research effort. Built by Texas A&M students, AggieSat4 (AGS4) will release UT’s Bevo-2 CubeSat in about a month, once it is far enough away from the ISS. Both schools received support from NASA’s Johnson Spaceflight Center (JSC) for the design, construction, testing, and launch phases. The goal of the overarching LONESTAR (Low Earth Orbiting Navigation Experiment for Spacecraft Testing Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking) program is for the two satellites to individually rendezvous with each other and perform docking and undocking maneuvers.

“The overall objective is to find ways for small spacecraft to join together autonomously in space,” Helen Reed, KD7GPX, professor of aerospace engineering and director of the AggieSat Lab at Texas A&M told NASA. “We need simple systems that will allow rendezvous and docking with little to no help from a human, which will become especially important as we venture farther out into space. Applications could include in-space assembly or reconfiguration of larger structures or systems as well as servicing and repair.”

The AggieSat team received its first beacon signal from the satellite at its Texas A&M Riverside Campus ground station. The AggieSat4 team is asking any Amateur Radio operators receiving the beacon signal to send any data to the AGS4 team. AggieSat4 will transmit 9.6 kbps FSK telemetry and 153.6 kbps FSK on 436.250 MHz. Once it’s placed into its own orbit, Bevo-2 will transmit on 437.325 on CW and 38.4 kbps FSK.

Both satellites were launched to the space station during a December 6, 2015, resupply mission. Earlier last week, Astronauts Tim Peake, KG5BVI, and Scott Kelly made preparations to deploy the sizeable LONESTAR phase 2 mission satellite package from the ISS, using the SSIKLOPS deployer. The satellite mission also will demonstrate communication cross links, data exchange, GPS-based navigation, and other tasks. AggieSat4 will capture images of the Bevo-2 release.

The satellites were independently developed by student teams at the two universities. Both teams were responsible for development plans for their satellite and had to meet established mission objectives.

The Bevo-2 Satellite was designed, built, and tested in the Texas Spacecraft Lab (TSL) at the University of Texas at Austin. “This whole experience is very exciting,” TSL Director Glenn Lightsey, KE5DDG, said last fall as undergraduate and graduate students were in the final stages of their project. “It’s great to have a research program where our students can build satellites that fly in space.” Reed and Lightsey are co-investigators for the LONESTAR 2 project.

FO-29 – Amateur Satellite

With the right gear this amateur satellite can be easy to work!

Name: Fuji-OSCAR-29 aka Fuji-3 and JAS-2
Callsign: 8J1JCS
NASA Catalog Number: 24278
Launched: August 17, 1996
Launch vehicle: Japanese H-II No. 4
Launch location: Tanegashima Space Center of NASDA, Tanegashima Island, Japan
Weight: 50 kg
Orbit: Polar LEO (Low Earth Orbit)
Inclination:
Size: 44 cm wide x 47 cm high
Period:112 minutes
Features:

BBS Message System (digital store-and-forward)
Analog Communications Transponder
Attitude Control
Digi-Talker
Testing of newly developed solar cells in space

Beacon (100 milliWatt) Telemetry Format

435.795 MHz – CW (12 wpm)
435.910 MHz – PSK digital – Digi-Talker

Digital Transponder – Mode JD (1 Watt)

Uplinks: AFSK (FM) 1200 bps, AX.25, Manchester Encoded
145.850 MHz
145.870 MHz (the only 9600 bps uplink frequency)
145.890 MHz
145.910 MHz

Downlink: BPSK 1200 bps or FSK 9600 bps
435.910 MHz (also Digi-Talker frequency)

Analog Transponder – Mode JA (1 Watt)

Uplink: 145.900 – 146.000 MHz – LSB/CW
Downlink: 435.800 – 435.900 MHz – USB/CW

Status:

Operational

SO-50 – Amateur Satellite

SO-50 satellite information

SO-50 carries several experiments, including a mode J FM amateur repeater experiment operating on 145.850 MHz uplink and 436.795 MHz downlink. The repeater is available to amateurs worldwide as power permits, using a 67.0 Hertz PL tone on the uplink, for on-demand activation. SO-50 also has a 10 minute timer that must be armed before use. Transmit a 2 second carrier with a PL tone of 74.4 to arm the timer.

The repeater consists of a miniature VHF receiver with sensitivity of -124dBm, having an IF bandwidth of 15 KHz. The receive antenna is a 1/4 wave vertical mounted in the top corner of the spacecraft. The receive audio is filtered and conditioned then gated in the control electronics prior to feeding it to the 250mW UHF transmitter. The downlink antenna is a 1/4 wave mounted in the bottom corner of the spacecraft and canted at 45 degrees inward.

AMSAT: Your support keeps the satellites flying! Donate to the Fox-1 project!

“Given the sad news on AO-51,” AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “we highlighted at the recent 2011 Symposium that AMSAT is actively developing Fox-1, a new spacecraft that is designed to replace AO-51. Fox-1 development now takes on a great sense of urgency.”

AMSAT Vice-President of Engineering, Tony Monteiro, AA2TX says, “Fox-1 will advance single-channel FM repeater satellite operation beyond the experience of AO-51. It will advance AMSAT to the next generation of AO-51 class satellites.”

Fox-1 is designed for longer operational life with these features:

  • Fox-1 is designed to operate in sunlight without batteries once the battery system fails. This applies lessons learned from AO-51 and ARISSat-1 operations.
  • In case of IHU failure Fox-1 will continue to operate its FM repeater in a basic, ‘zombie sat’ mode, so that the repeater remains on-the-air.
  • Fox-1 is designed as the immediate replacement for AO-51. Its U/V (Mode B) transponder will make it even easier to work with modest equipment.
  • From the ground user’s perspective, the same FM amateur radio equipment used for AO-51 may be used for Fox-1.
  • Extending the design, Fox-2 will benefit from the development work of Fox-1 by adding more sophisticated power management and Software Defined Transponder (SDX)  communications systems.

Barry concluded, “AMSAT’s ability to provide a replacement spacecraft and get it launched is dependent upon the active support of donors who wish to see Fox-1 fly.”

Several opportunities to make your donation include:

AMSAT: AO-51 has stopped transmitting

The amateur satellite that goes by the name AO-51 has ceased transmission and is not responding to commands.  This satellite has been a mainstay for the last seven years for the amateur satellite community as one of the FM “easy” satellites (easy is relative). The last telemetry data indicated that the third of six batteries was approaching failure to short, and observations indicate the voltage from three cells is insufficient to power the UHF transmitters. The IHU may continue to be operative. Initial tests with the S band transmitter were also not positive, although more attempts are in order. We have tried leaving the satellite in an expected state where if voltages climb high enough, the 435.150 transmitter may possibly be heard.

Alabama: Alabama students to chat with the ISS

The ISS or International space stationStudents gathered at Carver High School in Birmingham, Alabama, will speak with Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum aboard the International Space Station at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, Oct. 21. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama also will join the students. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and include video of Fossum. To attend the event, reporters must contact Allison Abney in Sewell’s office at 202-225-1710 or allison.abney@mail.house.gov by 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20. Carver High School is located at 3900 24th St. N. in Birmingham.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grades will ask Fossum questions about life, work and research in space. They have been taking part in a series of activities leading up to the event, which is focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

This in-flight education downlink is one in a series with educational organizations in the United States and abroad to improve STEM teaching and learning. It is an integral component of NASA’s Teaching From Space education program, which promotes learning opportunities and builds partnerships with the education community using the unique environment of space and NASA’s human spaceflight program.

For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
For information about NASA’s education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education
For information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station