CubeSat Amateur Laser Communications

Block diagram of proposed Cubesat with laser communicator - Credit Oleg Nizhnik

Block diagram of proposed Cubesat with laser communicator – Credit Oleg Nizhnik

On November 19 Oleg Nizhnik gave a presentation on CubeSat amateur laser communication with Earth to Moon orbit data link capability.

In his paper Oleg says the available bands at 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz for amateur satellite communication are increasingly crowded. Higher frequency amateur bands meanwhile require uncommon microwave parts to implement transceivers, and working with 10 GHz or above require electric power typically not available in CubeSat. Therefore, to enable amateur Moon exploration, amateur laser communicator built of common, low-cost parts will help to extend amateur satellites operating range up to at least moon orbit.

The presentation was made in the 3rd Mission Idea Contest (MIC3) held during the 2nd UNISEC Global Meeting at Kyushu Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu, Japan, Nov. 19, 2014.

Watch MIC3 #7 – CubeSat amateur laser communication with Earth to Moon orbit data link capability

Presentation slides


The videos of other presentations given at MIC3 are at

Slides and abstracts are at

Amateur Satellite Seed Funding

AMSAT FOXOn December 2, 2014 the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors approved Technology Development Seed Funding.

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 (n0jy at

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:

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


UWE-3 CubeSat Update

UWE-3 LogoUWE-3 was launched with FUNcube-1 on November 21, 2013, the team say they will now be temporarily ending operations.

Today, more than one year after launch, there will be a temporary end of operations caused by the end of funding.

However, UWE-3 is in a very good health condition with fully charged batteries and operations may be continued depending on future research plans.  

Without any reception from ground, UWE-3 will carry out a warm reset every four days and switch regularly between the redundant on-board processors and radios. Therefore, UWE-3 will switch back to its nominal frequency of 437.385 MHz.

Nevertheless we appreciate the extensive support we received from the HAM amateurs in the past and hope that also in the future the status of UWE-3 will be monitored with your support, like you did so many times in the past year. Thank you so much for the very helpful cooperation in this respect!

Yours sincerely,

UWE-3 Team

UEW-3 News

Surrey Space Centre SME-SAT

SME-SAT - Surrey Space Centre

SME-SAT – Surrey Space Centre

The Surrey Space Centre (SSC) are developing a 3U CubeSat SME-SAT expected to launch into a 550-620 km orbit using the ISIPOD CubeSat deployer.

The mission objectives are:
A: Outreach – The satellite will provide beacons for which amateur satellite users and ham radio users will be able to receive.
B: Space qualification and performance characterisation of sensors.
• High performance COTS Gyroscopes (x3).
• High precision MEMS accelerometers.
• 2 Aperture Star Camera, At a later point in the mission these will be used in conjunction with the ADCS to characterise the closed loop performance of the sensors.
C: Performance characterisation of Nano-Control Moment Gyros (CMGs) for agility. The mission is equipped with 4-Nano-CMGs in a pyramid configuration for ADCS. This part of the mission will evaluate the performance of this system on the ADCS and agility of the satellite.
D: Space qualification and performance characterisation of the EPS The EPS for this mission has heritage from the Delfi-C3 and other missions and includes additional improvements to be demonstrated on this mission.
E: Smart Thermal Radiation Devices (STRD tiles) SME-SAT is equipped with a number of STRD tiles on the outside faces of the satellite for passive thermal management of the internal structure.
F: Flux Gate Magnetometer The mission contains a scientific grade miniaturized flux gate magnetometer that sits on the end of a deployable boom to improve the performance of the sensor. This payload will be switched into the ADCS for evaluation of performance during parts of the mission but is not the primary magnetometer for ADCS.
G: GPS SME-SAT also contains an experimental GPS system that will be switched into the ADCS loop at stages in the orbit to evaluate the performance of the system.

Planning a 9k6 RC-BPSK UHF downlink using AX25.

Further information at

IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination

Ofcom discuss Pocket Spacecraft

View of St Pauls from Ofcom office - Credit Michael Johnson M0MJJ

View of St Pauls from Ofcom office – Credit Michael Johnson M0MJJ

On Wednesday, November 26, Michael Johnson M0MJJ discussed the licensing of thousands of Pocket Spacecraft with the UK communications regulator Ofcom.

Pocket Spacecraft

Pocket Spacecraft

The plan is that a 3U CubeSat will carry Pocket Spacecraft known as ‘Scouts’ to the Moon. A ‘Scout’ is a disk with flexible electronics, smaller than a CD, containing a transceiver, antenna and solar cells. The CubeSat should first release a batch of the wafer thin Scout satellites into Earth orbit and then deploy another batch of the Scout satellites into Lunar orbit.

It is understood the mission plans to use the 435 MHz and 2400 MHz bands.

Pocket Spacecraft

Follow Pocket Spacecraft on Twitter @mySpacecraft

UK radio ham’s Lunar CubeSat to go ahead

BBC: ‘Pocket spacecrafts’ to become a reality

Goonhilly tracking FUNcube

Goonhilly 1 "Arthur" - Credit GES Ltd

Goonhilly 1 “Arthur” – Credit GES Ltd

Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) Ltd are transforming the BT satellite communications site at Goonhilly into a new Space Science centre.

The Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station is located on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. It’s famous for many reasons, but perhaps most notably, for receiving, the first ever trans-Atlantic satellite TV images, broadcast by Telstar, on July 11, 1962. The impressive 25.9m dish called Arthur was used for that historic event.

The Register has published an article by journalist SA Mathieson following a recent visit to the site. This included seeing the AMSAT-UK ground station used to track the satellites FUNcube-1 and UKube-1 which both carry educational payloads developed by radio amateurs from the voluntary satellite organisations AMSAT-UK and AMSAT-NL. The station comprises an Asus PC with FUNcube Dongle Pro+ Software Defined Radio (SDR) and a turnstile (crossed dipoles) antenna.

SA Mathieson also visited another recent addition to the site, the radome used by the imaging start-up Planet Labs Inc to communicate with its constellation of  “Dove” CubeSats.

Read Suffering satellites! Goonhilly’s ARTHUR REBORN for SPAAAACE

Goonhilly Earth Station

FUNcube Telemetry Receive Antenna System

FUNcube Dongle Pro Plus SDR

FUNcube-1’s Birthday

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

Hi Folks,

It seems amazing to us that FUNcube-1 – AO73, was launched nearly one year ago, in fact at 07:10 UTC on 21 Nov 2013. The very first signals were received by ZS1LS in South Africa at 07:37 UTC and he was even able to upload the resulting data to the Warehouse so the results could be seen immediately.

We are extremely happy to say that, since then, the satellite has been performing very satisfactorily, the battery voltage doesn’t drop below 8 volts, and becomes fully charged within about 7 – 10 minutes after re-entering sunlight from eclipse.

Howard Long G6LVB working AO-73 while Ciaran Morgan M0XTD captures the downlink passband data using a FUNcube Dongle Pro+ and Microsoft Surface Tablet

Howard Long G6LVB working AO-73 while Ciaran Morgan M0XTD captures the downlink passband data using a FUNcube Dongle Pro+ and Microsoft Surface Tablet

On Friday 21 Nov 2014, we will be celebrating the satellite’s first birthday. To mark the occasion, we will be activating the transponder earlier than normal – late on Thursday 20 Nov, so that it will be available for use during the whole of Friday. So please make as many contacts as possible through the transponder during Friday, FUNcube’s actual birthday. You are invited to make a note of any stations worked on this day, or any other comments on the FUNcube Forum. Please use the existing “FUNcube-1’s Birthday” topic, under the Welcome heading. The URL of the Forum is

Please also remember the ’73 on 73′ Award which is kindly being organised by Paul Stoetzer N8HM. See for more details.

Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG talking about FUNcube-1 to students at Abbeys Primary School in Bletchley

Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG talking about FUNcube-1 to students at Abbeys Primary School in Bletchley

We would like to take this opportunity of thanking all of our ‘users’, both those who download telemetry and forwarding it to the warehouse, and of course, all users of the transponder. This telemetry data is invaluable, both as an educational resource and to enable us to see how the spacecraft systems are performing and surviving. So far we have collected almost 400MB of unique data via stations from all around the world.

Of course we are hoping that the satellite continues to function nominally for several more years to come even though we may never reach AO7’s record!


First 73 on 73 Award issued to Wyatt Dirks AC0RA

First 73 on 73 Award issued to Wyatt Dirks AC0RA

The AMSAT-UK Flickr Group is at
Please upload your pictures of amateur satellites, satellite ground stations, satellite demonstrations or any other satellite related event.

73 on 73 Award

Data Warehouse – Telemetry Archive

Dashboard App – Telemetry Decoder

UAE’s first CubeSat Nayif-1

EIAST-1280The Dubai based Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), in partnership with American University of Sharjah (AUS) are developing the UAE’s first CubeSat Mission, Nayif-1, which they hope will be launched on a Falcon 9 by the end of 2015.

A report in Satellite Pro magazine says students will go through an intense systems design and testing training and will partake in the program as their Senior Engineering Design project and participate in the design, assembly, integration and testing of the CubeSat. Nayif-1 will carry out a 1U Communication Mission with development taking place in AUS, EIAST’s facilities and Delft in the Netherlands.

Read the Satellite Pro story at

Khaleej Times with illustrative picture

Gulf News


FUNcube-1 Telemetry Statistics

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

FUNcube-1 was launched on November 21, 2013 and since then radio amateurs and schools have been collecting the telemetry which has been stored in the Data Warehouse.

The Data Warehouse statistics as of 21:49 GMT on October 25, 2014 were:

Number of registered users: 1286
Number of active users (data received in last two weeks): 195
Number of active users since launch: 757

Number of packets transmitted by satellite since deployment: 5865120 (1.5GB)
Number of packets uploaded by users before deduplication: 6370976 (1.63 GB)

Number of packets stored in warehouse: 1466239 (376.9 MB) which also
represents the same number of realtime data points (collected once every
5 seconds),

Whole orbit Data: 276.3 days of data (collected once every minute)
High Resolution Data: 806 hours of data (collected once every second, for a period of a minute, every other minute)

Whole orbit Data: 276.3 days of data (collected once every minute)
High Resolution Data: 806 hours of data (collected once every second, for a period of a minute, every other minute)

Recovery rates:
Realtime  (25%)
WOD (81%)
HiRes (22%)

As always, many thanks to all those who have and continue to send data.

Data Warehouse – Telemetry Archive
Dashboard App – Telemetry Decoder


UK Students CubeSat Project

Warwick University WUSAT-2 CubeSat

Warwick University WUSAT-2 CubeSat

The Coventry Telegraph newspaper reports on students at Warwick University who are building their own satellite WUSAT-2.

Lucy Lynch writes that eight engineering students are designing their own satellite which will be sent into space. In February or March 2015 they and the project director Dr Bill Crofts will don winter woollies and take their creation to a launch site in northern Sweden, near the town of Kiruna.

It is the second student satellite designed at the university. The first one, last year, was sent up from mid Wales in a high altitude weather balloon.

Once the current satellite has been launched the next step is to create a satellite capable of orbiting the Earth.

Dr Crofts said: “This is a stepping stone to a full orbital launch.”

Read the full article at

Twitter @WUSAT_Team

UK Students Fly CubeSat to 30km