AMSAT and University of Iowa News

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AMSAT and University of Iowa Partner on Scientific Payload for Fox-1D

AMSAT and the University of Iowa have agreed to include the University’s
HERCI (High Energy Radiation CubeSat Instrument) radiation mapping
experiment on Fox-1D. According to Don Kirchner, KDØL, Research Engineer at
the University of Iowa, “HERCI is intended to provide a mapping of radiation
in a low earth orbit. This is of scientific interest for planning CubeSat
test flights for low energy X-Ray detectors.”

“The instrument consists of a digital processing unit (DPU) derived from
processors currently in orbit around Saturn on Cassini and on the way to
Jupiter on the Juno spacecraft,” says Kirchner. “The DPU was shrunk to a CubeSat
form factor with funding from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.”

The University of Iowa’s history in spaceflight research dates back to the
earliest satellites. As Kirchner puts it, “HERCI can be considered a direct
descendent of the first University of Iowa spaceflight instrument flown on
Explorer I in 1958. The instrument is being constructed as a Senior Design
Project by four Electrical Engineering students from the UI College of
Engineering, under supervision of Space Physics engineering staff from the
Department of Physics and Astronomy.”

AMSAT’s VP of Engineering, Jerry Buxton, NØJY, noted the win-win benefits of
the agreement, stating, “This partnership with the University of Iowa
illustrates our strategy of leveraging the new CubeSat design to assist
universities that need a way to fly scientific payloads while providing a
viable ongoing platform for amateur radio.”

 

HERCI_photo_1

In a Space Physics laboratory in Van Allen Hall, University of Iowa senior Electrical Engineering students Patrick Maloney, KD9CPD; Tyler Dunkel, KE0CHR; Kevin Klosterman, KD9CPF; and Bryan Senchuk, KD9CPE inspect the HERCI development boards.

HERCI_photo_2

The HERCI Engineering Model boards prior to initial test. The boards will be tested before installation of the radiation detector and hybrid circuits. The digital processor board is the first use of the Y90 microprocessor firmware which was donated by Monte Dalrymple,KR6DC, of Systemyde Corporation.

 

Photos courtesy of William Robison, KC0JFQ.

Fox-1A Launch Date

AMSAT has received a launch date for the Fox-1A satellite. Fox-1A will be launched on August 27, 2015 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on the NROL-55 flight for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. The launch time has not been announced.

Fox-1A Operating Frequencies include:
Uplink 435.180 MHz FM
Downlink 145.980 MHz FM

The AMSAT Fox series of satellites will include additional opportunities for launch during 2015-2016:

  • Fox-1B will fly with the Vanderbilt University radiation experiments expected in 2016.
  • Fox-1C* will launch on Spaceflight’s maiden mission of the SHERPA multi-cubesat deployer during the 3rd quarter of 2015.
  • Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C. If not needed as a spare it will become available to launch on any open launch slot which becomes available and be submitted in a Cubesat Launch Initiative (CSLI) proposal in 2015.
  • Fox-1E is built as a flight spare for Fox-1B but has been included in a student science proposal as part of the November, 2014 CSLI for an ELaNa flight slot. If selected the Fox-1B spare will fly as Fox-1E.

* The flight for Fox-1C has been purchased by AMSAT. It is not funded by the Cubesat Launch Initiative ELaNa program. Fundraising for the $125,000 launch costs for Fox-1C are underway. We have commissioned a unique challenge coin for donors who have contributed at the $100 level or higher. This challenge coin is shaped as an isometric view of a Fox-1 CubeSat, complete with details such as the stowed UHF antenna, solar cells, and camera lens viewport. Struck in 3mm thick brass, plated with antique silver, and finished in bright enamel, the coin is scaled to be approximately 1:4 scale, or 1 inch along each of the six sides. The reverse has the AMSAT Fox logo.

You may donate at:

[ANS thanks the Fox-1 Team for the above information]

Fox-1A Flight Unit

Fox-1A Flight Unit

Fox-1 Engineering Prototype.

Fox-1 Engineering Prototype.

AMSAT-NA Board Approves Technology Development Seed Funding

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The AMSAT Board of Directors met on December 2, 2014. As a part of AMSAT’s “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge, the Board of Directors approved $5000, within the 2015 engineering budget, to be used as seed money for future satellite development. Additional fund raising sources will also be investigated and pursued.

AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “We’re prepared to return to space starting in 2015 with a fleet of satellites that will equal, if not exceed, the performance, and availability to the average ham, of our previously popular AMSAT OSCAR 51. Meanwhile, we are preparing for the future looking to potentially leverage new technologies, to provide the best opportunities for enhancing amateur radio’s presence in space.”

Director Tom Clark, K3IO, noted the need for a defined future systems program. Tom said, “We saw a significant number of both new and old members who want to see the development of critical system elements for future opportunities by 2018-20. As I see it, critical ‘tall poles’ in applying potential technologies require significant work to begin now to ensure success.”

AMSAT is interested in supporting technology ideas that enhance the utility of using the CubeSat form factor to support more robust amateur satellite capabilities.   The scope of potential interest in not limited; some examples of  technology enhancement might include:

+ Microwave technology suitable for use in amateur spacecraft. This   includes the need to identify optimum frequency bands.

+ Complementary, low-cost ground systems, including an effective ~1º antenna pointing system.

+ Define and develop optimum coding and modulation schemes for low power microwave use.

+ Attitude determination & control systems to point the spacecraft   antennas towards the user while maximizing solar panel production.

Individuals interested in learning more about this initiative should contact AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY using the contact form found here.

Meanwhile, the development of AMSAT’s current series of the Fox-1 cubesats continues on schedule. AMSAT Vice-President of Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY reported during the Board meeting that construction and testing of five Fox satellites is on schedule:

+ Fox-1A will launch on a NASA ELaNa flight during the 3rd quarter of 2015 from Vandenberg AFB,

+ Fox-1B will fly with the Vanderbilt University radiation   experiments expected in 2016.

+ Fox-1C will launch on Spaceflight’s maiden mission of the   SHERPA multi-cubesat deployer during the 3rd quarter of 2015.   This flight was purchased by AMSAT.

+ Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C. If not needed as a spare   it will become available to launch on any open launch slot which   becomes available and be submitted in a CSLI proposal in 2015.

+ Fox-1E is built as a flight spare for Fox-1B but has been   included in a student science proposal as part of the November,   2014 Cubesat Launch Initiative (CSLI) for an ELaNa flight slot.   If selected the Fox-1B spare will fly as Fox-1E.

More details of the “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge can be found on-line at:
http://www.amsat.org/?p=3395 – and – in the November/December 2014 AMSAT Journal, currently in-transit to your QTH.

[ANS thanks the AMSAT Board Of Directors for the above information]

Design The Next AMSAT Satellite!

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At the 2014 AMSAT Space Symposium AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton announced the plan for the next generation of AMSAT satellites. “The door is open for everyone, to submit their ideas. AMSAT Engineering has a long term strategy and this is the first step.”

The Engineering long term strategy includes the following goals

  • Advancement of amateur radio satellite technical and communications skills
  • Enhance international goodwill
  • Grow and sustain a skilled pool of amateur radio satellite engineers
  • Establish and maintain partnerships with educational institutions
  • Develop a means to use hardware common to all opportunities

With respect to the last goal Jerry said “Within the bounds of the type of satellite it takes to achieve any of the various orbit opportunities, let’s consider in those plans the possibility of developing a platform that can suit any and all orbits.  Perhaps a modular CubeSat, using a common bus as we did in Fox-1, which gives great flexibility in building and flying different sizes and configurations of CubeSats with simple common-design hardware changes.”

Submissions should be thorough and contain the following information.  The purpose of the proposal is not just in suggesting an idea; being an all-volunteer team AMSAT needs your help in carrying out the idea.

  • Design
  • Implementation – CubeSat platform
  • Estimated timeline
  • Cost – volunteer resources, commercial (COTS) units
  • Launch – how does it get to orbit
  • Strategy – how it fits into AMSAT’s Engineering long term strategy

As mentioned above the idea should be based on the CubeSat platform. This is the standard through which we will look for launches in the foreseeable future.

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