Fox-1 Development, Launch, and Frequency Coordination Status at Dayton

During the Dayton Hamvention, AMSAT Vice President Operations, Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, and AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, provided more information about the Fox-1 satellites under development. Buxton, N0JY, says Fox-1A has passed all environmental testing and is integrated into the P-POD deployment canister. “The ‘remove before flight pin’ has been pulled, the doors closed on the P-POD, and everything is aboard the shipping container now en route to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for launch”, said Buxton.

Previously Buxton had announced plans to incorporate an L band receiver in Fox-1C and Fox-1D. The addition will allow ground commanded selection of the U/v (normal Fox-1 bands) or the new L/v 1.2 GHz (23 cm) mode. Both bands will operate as FM single channel. (See: http://www.amsat.org/?p=4000)

During the satellite operations segment of the AMSAT Forum Glasbrenner provided the details of the uplink and downlink frequencies for the Fox-1 FM cubesat fleet.

Fox-1 Frequencies

                                            Uplink FM (67 Hz tone)     Downlink FM

Fox-1A                                 435.180 MHz                     145.980 MHz

RadFxSat/Fox-1B*              435.250 MHz                     145.960 MHz

Fox-1C*                               435.300 MHz                     145.920 MHz

       1267.300 MHz **               145.920 MHz

Fox-1D*                                435.350 MHz                    145.880 MHz

        1267.350 MHz **              145.880 MHz

* Pending IARU Coordination, If needed, changes will be announced

** U/v and L/v operations switchable by command station,
not operational simultaneously

According to Buxton, the team is planning to have an affordable L band uplink ground station available to amateurs by the time Fox-1C is on orbit.

+ Fox-1A will launch on a NASA ELaNa flight scheduled during the third quarter, 2015 from Vandenberg AFB. Fox-1A is a passenger aboard this launch driven by the schedule of the primary payload. When updates are available with firm dates they will be announced via the ANS bulletins, on the AMSAT web, and in the AMSAT Journal.

+ 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 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 flight planned for late 2015.

+ Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C. If not needed as a spare it will fly with the University of Iowa HERCI radiation mapping experiment.

+ Fox-1E “Evolution” will carry a Mode J linear transponder. The transponder is planned to be 30 kHz wide and will also have a 1200 bps BPSK telemetry beacon. Launch opportunities are being developed, to be announced at a later date.

Visit the Station and Operating Hints page (http://www.amsat.org/?page_id=2144) for a copy of the Fox-1 Operating Guide which premiered at Dayton.

AMSAT has an immediate need to raise funds to cover both the launch contract and additional materials for construction and testing for Fox-1C. Please help us to continue to keep amateur radio in space. Donations may be made via the:

+ Paypal and credit card payment on the AMSAT website at http://www.amsat.org

+ Donation link in the AMSAT store: http://store.amsat.org/catalog/

+ Call the AMSAT office at (888) 322-6728

Fox-1C and Fox-1D Include L-Band Uplink; Fox-1E Linear Transponder Announced

AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, announced plans to incorporate an L band receiver in Fox-1C and Fox-1D. The addition will allow ground commanded selection of the U/v (normal Fox-1 bands) or the new L/v 1.2 GHz (23 cm) mode. Both bands will operate as FM single channel.

Rather than adding a complete new receiver, the L band “Project Downshifter” will convert the received L band signal down to the Fox-1 uplink frequency and feed it to the regular UHF receiver on the Fox-1satellite. The design will not require an additional antenna on the satellite because the existing UHF antenna will work for L band receive as well.

In concert with the development of the satellite segment, a new group of volunteers is working on a companion uplink station to convert UHF to the L band uplink frequencies:

+ Bruce Herrick, WW1M
+ Dan Hubert, VE9DAN
+ Elizabeth Schenk, KC1AXX
+ Dave Smith, W6TE
+ Alfred Watts, AF5VH

The team is planning to have an affordable L band uplink ground station available to amateurs by the time Fox-1C is on orbit.

In further news, Jerry announced the plan to construct a Fox-1E “Evolution” variation of the Fox-1 series which will carry a Mode J linear transponder. The transponder is planned to be 30 kHz wide and will also have a 1200 bps BPSK telemetry beacon.

The purpose of the project is to test a design for a linear transponder that could be made available to CubeSat builders as a secondary, or even primary radio payload thus bringing more opportunities for amateur radio in space as well as offering AMSAT’s proven communications skills as a telemetry option.

AMSAT has been approached for a launch opportunity for Fox-1E in 2016, but launch details can not be shared at this time.

Jerry concluded, “It is important that we find additional resources to help the Fox-1 Team with these new endeavors. We are looking for volunteers who have solid RF building and testing experience to work on both the downshifter and the transponder prototyping and construction.” If you would like to help and be a part of the success of Fox-1C/D and Fox-1E, please contact Jerry through the AMSAT Engineering volunteer form page on-line at:  http://ww2.amsat.org/?page_id=1121.

What’s Next for Fox-1A?

APRIL 14, 2015 – Mission logos on the NPSCuL shipping container for the GRACE mission, including Fox-1A.

GRACE NPSCuL shipping container

APRIL 9, 2015 UPDATE – Today the NPS team completed both X and Y axis acceptance vibration tests on the NPSCuL with no issues. (Z axis vibe was completed April 8.)  Roll tests were conducted after each axis and no loose parts were heard. GRACE is now sealed up in the shipping container and ready for transport. Next stop: VAFB!

NPSCuL vibe testing complete

NPSCuL vibe testing complete

UPDATE – The P-PODs were delivered to Naval Postgraduate School this week and have been integrated in the NPSCuL.

GRACE mission P-PODs including Fox-1, at NPS for NPSCuL integration.

GRACE mission P-PODs including Fox-1, at NPS for NPSCuL integration.  Photo courtesy of Justin Foley, Cal Poly.

GRACE mission P-PODs in the NPSCuL

GRACE mission P-PODs in the NPSCuL  Photo courtesy of Justin Foley, Cal Poly.

The video linked below was provided to all of the GRACE mission CubeSat teams by Justin Foley of Cal Poly.

Justin says “A few years back we put together a video that outlines the process we go through to get CubeSats on the Atlas V. This video follows the payload we put on NROL-36, aka OUTSat, which launched from VAFB and carried 11 cubes. The process is very similar to what your satellites are going through now.”

You saw the photos of the P-POD integration in the Cal Poly clean room yesterday, which is where this video begins the story. The last two CubeSats were being integrated in their P-POD today (March 26). All of the P-PODs will then head up to the Naval Postgraduate School next week for integration in the NPSCuL and acceptance testing, and then be sent on to Vandenberg (cue video) –

(Thanks to Justin D. Foley for the YouTube video link.)