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.

X-Class solar flare sent us a CME? Not this time…

Sunspot AR1598 has erupted again. On Oct. 23rd at 0322 UT, Earth orbiting satellites detected a strong X1-class solar flare but don’t expect anyone to warn of of much more than a lot of the same.  Why create panic for a small possibility of a large impact to our power-grids, radio communications, etc.  I digress, It was spectacular and probably will not change much of anything in your day.  Take a look at this view of it.

October 2012 X-Class Solar Flare - Spaceweather.com

This flare, however, did not unleash a coronal mass ejection, so it is predicted to cause little disruption on Earth and no special auroras. Its powerful radiation was enough, though, to briefly disrupt radios here last night.X-Class Solar Flare on earth facing side of the sun

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:

N1274A Motorola Power Amplifier

Motorola  N1274A RF Power AmplifierMy new N1274a RF Motorola power amplifier is an old school solid-state broadband power amplifier capable of delivering 40-50 watts of rf power into a 50 ohm antenna when you drive it with 4-5 watts.  I will be using this on the  2 meter ham band (144-148mhz)but this rf amplifer has a range of 136-150.7 mhz.  This rf power amplifier contains an rf sensing circuit which detects the presence of rf power at the input and switches that signal to the power amplifier for amplification.  As far as I can tell the total drain in standby or receive mode is 3 milliamperes.

My use for this is more than three fold.  I now have a battery powerable, low drive power with a decent output of 40-50 watts for use in a car to make a HT act like a mobile. Secondly, I have an amplifier that can be  used in an emergency or on satellites (1 watt in = 10watts out).  Thirdly I have a quick way  to go that extra distance on 2 meter without a huge power requirement.

Overall, the N1274a fits a perfect need for this amateur radio station and I look forward to the many uses of this great amplifier.

Ham Radio: Icom IC-W32A

Icom IC-W32aMy new radio is the Icom IC-W32A dual-bander that I will be using for satellite communications mainly.  It has an impressive alphanumeric and memory display and independent tuning knobs which makes working with the doppler easier for satellite communications. The IC-W32A’s two dials are used for independent tuning of the VHF and UHF band. This conveniently allows independent adjustment of either band. With ICOM’s exchange function you can assign VHF/UHF tuning and volume to either knob as you prefer. And of course the frequency display will sync with this function. Independent main and sub bands allow you to receive both VHF and UHF simultaneously; or use the V/V and U/U functions for receiving two frequencies on the same band. Moreover, either operating band can be used in transmit regardless of whether it appears in the proper display or not. Full crossband duplex is supported.

It has 100 channels for each band (200 total). Each channel can be assigned a name of up to 8 alpha characters from the keypad for easy recognition. Alpha tagging is also available for DTMF memory channels. You also get programmed, full and memory skip scanning. Other features include:  impressive audio, 50 frequency PL encode, decode, backlit LCD, auto power off and two power levels.

Satellite frequency listing for amateur radio operators: click here

This radio is programmable using the free program called Chirp which can be found here!

Our Sun: Ruturn of the X-class Solar Flare

Sunspot 1339 released this X-Class solar flare
Sunspot 1339 released this X-Class solar flare

Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected an X2-class solar flare. The source is huge sunspot AR1339 measuring some 40,000 km wide and at least twice that in length, the sprawling sunspot group is an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Two or three of the sunspot’s dark cores are wider than Earth itself.

The x-class solar flare launched a  CME (coronal mass ejection) into space. The CME is not heading our way. Many scientists will be watching this sunspot as the CMEs could have greater effect as AR1339 turns toward Earth in the next few days.

AubieSat-1 was launched today

 AubieSat-1 was launched today and now can be heard as it circles our earth.

AubieSat-1 downlink frequency: 437.475 MHZ

 Keplerian Elements

 Epoch: 28 Oct 2011 11:26:20 UTC
 Period: 5841.68 sec
 Eccentricity: 0.0253027
 Inclination: 101.648 deg
Argument of Perigee: 295.263 deg
RAAN: 233.359 deg
True Anomaly: 198.658 deg

 The satellite will started transmitting on 28 Oct 2011 at 12:17:20 UTC

For more information on AubieSat-1, go to the website at http://www.space.auburn.edu/.

 

 

 

AubieSat-1 cube satellite to be launched Oct. 27th

AubieSat-1 - A CubeSat to be launched October 27 2011The satellite is a “cubesat,” which is a 4-inch, cube-shaped satellite that is used primarily for research. Once released from the rocket, AubieSat-1 will have two antennas come out – one for receiving signals from Auburn University and one for sending signals back to Auburn. The students have built a control center in the Physics Department from which they will give the satellite commands to execute, as well as receive, data from the satellite such as temperature, battery charge and voltage, and power from the solar cells. The students will ultimately measure the decrease of solar cell efficiency over time on protected versus non-protected solar panels.

The construction of the satellite is part of the Auburn University Student Space Program, and AubieSat-1 is the first student-built satellite in the state to be accepted by NASA for launch. The satellite will launch aboard a NASA-sponsored Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Once in space, the satellite will communicate with Auburn students in Morse Code, and the phrase “War Eagle” is the signal that the launch was successful and the satellite is in orbit and operating correctly.

The students designed, built and tested the satellite, and took it to California for a Mission Readiness Review, which they passed with flying colors. Finally, the satellite underwent some tests before being shipped to California for integration into a Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer, a satellite deployer known as a P-POD, that will be placed in the launching rocket with the four other cubesats. 

Auburn University’s famous battle cry, “War Eagle,” will be heard from space Oct. 27 when it is transmitted to earth from a student-built satellite known as “AubieSat-1.”

The Auburn University Student Space Program is part of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. AubieSat-1 is sponsored by Auburn University and the Alabama Space Grant Consortium. For more information on AubieSat-1, go to the website at http://www.space.auburn.edu/.

Fun Facts regarding the AubieSat-1

  • AubieSat-1 is the first student built satellite in Alabama.
  • It is a 1U CubeSat: 1000cm3 in volume and weighing 1.03-kg.
  • It is entirely designed and built and tested by Auburn University undergraduate students, without using components off the shelf.
  • It will study radio wave propagation through the ionosphere and test solar panel protective films.
  • It is part of the ELaNa3 Mission.