Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Huge Amateur Radio CubeSat Launch Set for June 28

Reprinted from the American Radio Relay League web site

2006 June 8

NEWINGTON, CT, Jun 8, 2006--In what will be the largest deployment ever of Amateur Radio satellites, 13 Amateur Radio "CubeSats" are set for launch June 28. If all goes according to plan, a Dnepr-1LV rocket will carry the CubeSats into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A fourteenth satellite in the package will not carry an Amateur Radio payload.

The CubeSat project is a collaboration between California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and Stanford University's Space Systems Development Laboratory. All of the CubeSats set to launch this month were designed and built by students at various universities in the US and elsewhere in the world.

Cornell University, Cal Poly, and the University of Arizona each will send two CubeSats into space. Other US schools participating in the mass CubeSat launch are the University of Illinois, the University of Kansas, Montana State University and the University of Hawaii. In addition, schools in Norway, S Korea and Japan have built CubeSats for this month's launch.

One of the CubeSats, known as SEEDS, was built by students at the Nihon University in Japan. It contains a CW beacon, Digi-Talker and other experiments. The CW beacon will be on 437.485 MHz and use the call sign JQ1YGU. The Digi-Talker experiment will be activated later. All 13 CubeSats will identify using Amateur Radio call signs.

According to AMSAT-NA, the satellites will be put into a 500-by-566 km (310 by 351 miles) orbit with a 97-degree inclination. Each tiny satellite is a 10 cm (4 inch) cube weighing just 1 kg (2.2 lbs) into which the battery, transmitter and various experiments are packed.

Twelve of the satellites have downlinks in the Amateur Radio satellite allocation between 435 and 438 MHz, and one will operate on 145.980 MHz, so there will be lots of signals to listen out for after launch. None of the spacecraft will carry a transponder. Transmitter power outputs range from 10 mW to 2 W.

Handling the complex job of frequency coordination was International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Amateur Satellite Advisor Hans van de Groenendaal, ZS6AKV, and a panel of experts who assist in frequency coordination and advise satellite builders.

Ralph Wallio, W0RPK, maintains a Web page with up-to-date CubeSat status (scroll down).--AMSAT News Service

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