Antares PhoneSat Cubesat Launch Now Planned for April 21

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Photo credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation

Three PhoneSat cubesats will be aboard the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares(TM) rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in eastern Virginia. Orbital Sciences reports on their website the soonest that the Antares rocket can be ready to retry the launch is April 19. The launch on April 20 was postponed because of unfavorable weather conditions. The next launch attempt is currently scheduled for April 21 at 2100 UTC. The launch will be broadcast on NASA TV. The April 17 launch attempt was scrubbed.

Phonesat carries an amateur radio payload on 437.425 MHz, was chosen as one of the winners in the Aerospace category for the Popular Science magazine “Best of What’s New 2012″ awards. The PhoneSat is a technology demonstration mission consisting of three 1U CubeSats intended to prove that a smartphone can be used to perform many of the functions required of a spacecraft bus.

The satellite is built around the Nexus smartphone which will be running the Android operating system and will be enclosed in a standard 1U cubesat structure. The main function of the phone is to act as the Onboard Computer, but the mission will also utilize the phone’s SD card for data storage, 5MP camera for Earth Observation, and 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis magnetometer for attitude determination.

One of the nanosatellites, powered by the HTC Nexus One smartphone, will send back pictures of Earth. The other two, running on the Samsung Nexus S, will have two-way S-band radio allowing them to be controlled from Earth.

With a short lifetime of only about one week, the satellites have no solar cells and operate on battery only.

An article on SpaceRef.com describes the Antares test flight, dubbed the A-ONE mission, as the first of two missions Orbital is scheduled to conduct in 2013 under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Space Act Agreement with NASA. Following a successful A-ONE launch, Orbital will carry out a full flight demonstration of its new Antares/Cygnus cargo delivery system to the International Space Station (ISS) around mid-year. In addition, the company is also scheduled to launch the first of eight operational cargo resupplymissions to the ISS in 2013 under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. All COTS and CRS flights will originate from NASA’s WFF, which is geographically well suited for ISS missions and can also accommodate launches of scientific, defense and commercial satellites to other orbits. The Antares medium-class launch system will provide a major increase in the payload launch capability that Orbital can provide to NASA, the U.S. Air Force and other customers.

The Antares launch includes the commercial DOVE-1 satellite, a technology development experiment. The satellite had requested IARU coordination for a 1 watt transmitter on 145.825 MHz to downlink a 1200 baud AFSK AX.25 beacon with telemetry and health data. The AMSAT News Service reported in ANS-027 that according to the IARU DOVE-1 will no longer be using frequencies in the amateur radio bands.

NASA and AMSAT-UK have posted related news items.

[ANS thanks SpaceRef, AMSAT-UK, and Oribital Sciences for the above information]