UK Amateur Radio Smartphone CubeSat STRaND-1

The International Amateur Radio Union satellite frequency coordination panel has agreed a frequency of 437.575 MHz for the UK satellite STRaND-1.

Some of the SSTL STRaND-1 Project Team, from Left to Right: Bob Dyer, Nick Holt, Dale Mellor, Mark Brenchley, Shaun Kenyon, Jonathan Gebbie, Rupert Taylor, Rosie Linehan, James Parsons, Andy Schofield

STRaND-1 will carry an Android Smartphone and plans to use data rates of 9k6 or 19k2 bps for the AX.25 packet radio downlink. A software-based speech synthesiser will be included to pay homage to the UOSAT family of satellites.

The 3U CubeSat measures 30 by 10 by 10 cm and weighs 4 kg. Unlike previous CubeSats it will feature full 3-axis control with the attitude an orbit control system comprising a nano-magnetorquer, nano-reaction wheels, GPS receiver, 8 pulse plasma thrusters and a butane thruster.

STRaND stands for Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstration and the programme is intended to be a long-term arrangement between the space company SSTL and academic researchers at the Surrey Space Centre (SSC), with STRaND-1 the first of a long line of STRaND nanosatellites.

The SSTL employees involved with the STRaND programme are volunteers. It is a condition of the programme that volunteers from SSTL and SSC use their own, free time for STRaND activities (such as lunches and breaks). The project has no budget for staff so is entirely dependant on volunteers.

The mission has four main objectives:

(1) Rapid autonomous commissioning – It is planned to demonstrate advanced autonomous commissioning techniques, including new attitude determination and control and detumble technologies

(2) In-orbit approach and inspection – It is planned to demonstrate miniature propulsion systems to approach the rocket body from which the station was deployed, and take images of the rocket body using an onboard camera.

(3) High performance computing and IEEE 802.11b/g networking – It is planned to demonstrate the operation of high performance, lower power consumption processors onboard for complex tasks.

(4) Outreach –  It is planned to take images of the Earth from space, and downlink a compressed digital version of the image. Additionally, users may upload their own digital content (for example JPEG imagery, short videos etc.) to be downlinked by other users.

A six page article on STRaND-1 appeared in the Spring issue of the AMSAT-UK publication OSCAR News available for download at

Thanks to the hard work of volunteers from the British Amateur Television Club (BATC) the video of the presentation on the STRaND-1 Smartphone CubeSat given by Shaun Kenyon to the AMSAT-UK Colloquium is now available:

Go to
Click on the ‘Film Archive’ icon
Select ‘AMSAT 2011’ from the Category drop down menu
Click ‘Select Category’
Select video ‘STRaND-1 A Smartphone CubeSat’
Click on ‘Select Stream’
Click the play icon ‘>’ on the player
Clicking on the icon to the left of the player volume control will
give you full screen display.

You can also download the video file to your PC at

A PDF of the PowerPoint slides is at

Surrey Space Centre

IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination Panel

AMSAT-UK publishes a colour A4 newsletter, OSCAR News, that is full of Amateur Radio satellite information. Join online at