AMSAT-NA Opportunity for Rideshare to Geosynchronous Orbit

Featured

MSS_Photo

(L-R) Sonya Rowe, KK4NLO; Jerry Buxton, N0JY; Bob McGwier, N4HY; Franklin Antonio, N6NKF; Tom Clark, K3IO; Michelle Thompson, W5NYV; and Phil Karn, KA9Q standing next to the Aquila M8 Bus flight article. (Click photo for larger image.)

AMSAT is excited to announce that we have accepted an opportunity to participate in a potential rideshare  as a hosted payload on a geosynchronous satellite planned for launch in 2017. An amateur radio payload, operating in the Amateur Satellite Service, will fly on a spacecraft which Millennium Space Systems (MSS) of El Segundo, CA is contracted to design, launch, and operate for the US government based on their Aquila M8 Series Satellite Structure.

A meeting to discuss this potential rideshare took place on April 13 at Millennium Space Systems that included Dr. Bob McGwier, N4HY; Franklin Antonio, N6NKF, co-founder of Qualcomm; Jerry Buxton, N0JY, AMSAT Vice President of Engineering and member of the board for AMSAT-NA; Dr. Tom Clark, K3IO, Director and President Emeritus of AMSAT-NA; Phil Karn, KA9Q; and Michelle Thompson, W5NYV.

Hosting the meeting for MSS were Stan Dubyn as founder and chairman of MSS, Vince Deno as president of MSS, Jeff Ward, K8KA, of MSS as VP for Product Development, formerly with SSTL and University of Surrey Space Center, and Ryan Lawrence of MSS as Project Manager on the spacecraft mission. Attending by telephone were Dr. Jonathan Black, Associate Research Director of Hume Center for Aerospace Systems and Associate Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and Dr. Michael Parker, KT7D, founder of RINCON Research Corp.

Following the meeting, Dr. Bob McGwier, N4HY, Director of Research at the Hume Center for National Security and Technology of Virginia Tech, and former director and former VP Engineering of AMSAT, described this as an opportunity to go forward with “AMSAT-Eagle” which, in the 2006-2008 timeframe, evolved into a microwave payload to be flown to geosynchonous orbit as a hosted payload. It would have provided digital communications to small terminals on the ground and a linear bent pipe transponder had it flown. This failed to go forward in part due to lack of an affordable flight opportunity.

McGwier outlined the next steps toward developing this mission:

1) To organize an effort at Virginia Tech to make a firm proposal to MSS and its US government sponsor, and organize an effort to raise sufficient funds to pay for development of the mission.

2) Enable Dr. Jonathan Black to lead the construction project at Virginia Tech in the Space@VT Center. Sonya Rowe, KK4NLO, Project Manager at the Hume Center will be the project manager.

3) Work for development of a low-cost microwave ground station for amateur radio still needs to be determined.

4) Dr. Michael Parker, KT7D, will  solicit the cooperation of the Rincon Research Corp. for development of the software radio technology for this payload.

The AMSAT Board of Directors has accepted the invitation to participate in this potential rideshare payload opportunity. AMSAT expects to be involved in the development of the ground station and the payload RF development, and will serve as the amateur radio (hosted) payload operator once the satellite has been launched.

McGwier summarized, “The launch is currently scheduled for 2017 and the payload must be delivered for testing and integration by Spring of 2016. It is an ambitious schedule and all involved will have to gain and maintain a serious level of commitment to that which they agree to undertake.” AMSAT President, Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “The AMSAT leadership is excited to fly a Phase-IV geosynchonous amateur satellite payload. This is an evolving development as we collaborate with the VT Hume Center with a project that provides technical challenges to create a new amateur radio capability in space that will provide a variety of benefits not only for amateurs but also for emergency communications and STEM educational outreach.”

The transponder is expected to support a wide range of voice, digital, and experimental advanced communications technologies. A decision is expected soon specifying the microwave uplink and downlink bands.

Join and support AMSAT on this link!

Click here to download this page in PDF format for a handout at club meetings and hamfests.

New Format Coming for AMSAT 20 Meter Net

edit_microphoneKeith Pugh, W5IU and Larry Brown, W7LB, Net Control stations for the AMSAT 20M International net have announced changes to the net operation. Keith wrote, “The AMSAT 20 Meter Net will be changing format effective 9 November 2014. It will start with check-ins at 1900 UTC on 14.282 MHz and proceed with Satellite Q&A and other topics.”

Continuing, he adds, “The weekly AMSAT Bulletin Titles will be read and an offer will be made to read or discuss specific bulletins by request. We encourage check-ins from operators who are very active on the satellites, and especially, operators that are new to the satellites and/or ham radio. The activity will generally be over by 2000 UTC. We realize that not everyone has 20 meter capability but we need more activity to continue running this net. Dust off your HF gear, put up a 20 meter dipole, and join us or let the net die a natural death.”

November 15 is AO-7’s 40th Anniversary – W7O Special Events Station

Temp-0200

AO-7 40 years on-orbit. W2GPS archive. Click to enlarge.

40 years ago: AMSAT-OSCAR 7 was launched at 1711 UTC, November 15, 1974 from the Western Test Range at Vandenberg AFB in California

AO-7 became the second AMSAT-NA constructed and Phase 2 amateur radio satellite launched into Low Earth Orbit. It remained operational until a short circuit in a battery in 1981. On 21 June 2002 the satellite was heard again on its 2 meter beacon (145.9775 MHz CW) after 21 years of silence, and 27 years in space. AO-7 remains semi-operational with reliable power only from its solar panels. The restoration of service was due to the short circuited battery becoming an open circuit allowing the solar cells to power the spacecraft. When the satellite eclipses it powers down. It is operational while the solar panels are illuminated by sunlight.

Read the original AO-7 launch announcement in the 1974 AMSAT Newsletter: AMSAT-Newsletter-1974-AO-7Launch.

W7O Special Event Station

Continue reading

EVA Photos of Chasqui-1 Deployment

Roscosmos EVA photo Chasqui-1 deployment. Click for full size image.

Roscosmos EVA photo Chasqui-1 deployment. Click for full size image.

The Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos announced that a nano satellite with the designation, NS-1 was hand-launched during a space walk that began at 14:00 UTC Monday, August 18, 2014.

The satellite is also referred to as the Peruvian Cubesat Chasqui-1 and weighs 1.5 kg. The satellite’s main mission is to serve as a platform for testing micro-electronics and optical devices used in cubesat applications.

Close-up of Chasqui-1 during deployment. Click for full-size image.

Close-up of Chasqui-1 during deployment. Click for full-size image.

Its secondary mission is to operate as an amateur radio satellite. It’s transmit downlink is 437.025 MHz. The craft will send information in CW mode. It also transmits images stored in memory, photos taken by two on board cameras and will send telemetry. Data transmissions will use either 1200 bps AFSK AX.25 or 9600 bps GMSK modes.

(Photo source: Sergey Samburov)