AMSAT’s focus on STEM education and development of a cubesat platform capable of flying a science mission with a reliable communications link resulted in our previous selection of Fox-1 in the third round and RadFxSat (Fox-1B) in the recent fourth round of NASA’s Cubesat Launch Initiative. Actual launch vehicle selections are dependent on the availability of auxiliary payload space and on what orbits are required.
AMSAT VP Engineering Tony Monteiro reports that he has been in conversation with NASA about our orbital preferences/priorities and we’re awaiting a response from NASA as to a specific launch selection. In the meantime, the engineering team expects to complete Fox-1 in 2013 and have RadFxSat ready in the 2nd half of 2014 in order to take advantage of launch opportunities that may be offered by NASA.
Fox-1 and the RadFxSat missions are based on similar system architecture. Both satellites:
- + Include a U/V (mode B) FM analog transponder. Its 2 meter down link should be even easier to hear than AO-51.
- + Are designed so you can work it with just a dual-band HT and an “arrow” hand-held antenna.
- + Will send telemetry on the voice downlink in the frequencies below the audible band as low-speed FSK with forward error correction.
- + Will support a high speed digital data mode.
- + A free telemetry decode program, FoxTLM, will be available to decode and display the low-speed telemetry and the high speed data downlink on Fox-1. An update will be provided for RadFxSat.
- + All Fox cubesats are designed to host advanced science payloads to support future science missions that help us to continue qualify for NASA ELaNa (free) launches.
AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW summarized the Fox cubesat program, “Although we are subject to the same launch constraints as every other satellite builder accepted in the Cubesat Launch Initiative, we will be ready for a launch opportunity when it is offered. As soon as we know when we’re manifested that information will be shared with our members.”