Fox-1 Project Educational Goals Align With NASA ELaNa Requirements

Project ELaNa, NASA’s “Educational Launch of NanoSat” managed by the Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center, announced on February 10 that the AMSAT Fox-1 cubesat has been selected to join the program. AMSAT will work with NASA in a collaborative agreement where NASA will cover the integration and launch costs of satellites deemed to have merit in support of their strategic and educational goals.

In an article published in the AMSAT Journal, AMSAT Vice-President of Engineering, Tony Monteiro, AA2TX noted that meeting NASA’s educational goals for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) was the cornerstone in the successful acceptance of Fox-1 into the ELaNa project.

Fox-1 continues AMSAT’s long record of success as an all-volunteer organization providing access to space communications for students in a curriculum setting as well the private citizen.

The Fox-1 communication package provides a learning and techological stepping-stone using commonly available amateur radio equipment. Students gain first-hand experience in setting up and operating equipment, orbital prediction, communication to distant places, and growth in overall space literacy. In the classroom, Fox-1 will allow schools, teachers, and students to actively participate in space technology with a unique experimental hands-on learning approach that includes communicating through a satellite in orbit.

All of the Fox-1 experiment and telemetry data will be collected and stored on our internet server and made publicly available for use in the classroom and shared with the CubeSat community.

In addition to mentoring university student cubesat mission teams, AMSAT satellites have also hosted university experiments aboard our spacecraft. In addition to the communications package, Fox-1 will host an experimental payload developed as a capstone project at Penn State University. The Penn State project will have impact on future CubeSat systems as the students design, construct, and orbit an attitude experiment based on a 3-axis micro-electro-mechanical gyroscope.

Fox-1 Project Reviews

The Fox-1 Team participated in a Merit Review and Feasibility Review with a panel including education and industry experts at the Doctorate level, a developer of 29 satellites, and directors of research.

The results of the Fox-1 Merit Review found:

+ AMSAT “nailed” the NASA education requirements of the NASA Education Strategic Coordination Framework and the NASA Education Implementation Framework. In fact, AMSAT has a history of space education that pre-dates most university programs.

+ The Fox-1 program will be accessible to an entire classroom or school with only the teacher or outside volunteer requiring an amateur radio license.

+ The archive of telemetry data collected during actual space flight will prove valuable in future educational projects that have yet to be imagined.

The results of the Fox-1 Feasibility Review found:

+ While AMSAT relies on an all-volunteer development team the tremendous depth and experience of the Fox-1 team far exceeds the capability of a typical CubeSat team. AMSAT has developed its satellites this way for 40 years and has never missed a launch.

+ AMSAT does not rely on critical technology for flight and leverages our experience from prior successful missions:

o Fox-1 is designed to operate in sunlight without batteries once the battery system fails. This applies lessons learned from AO-51 and ARISSat-1 operations.

o In case of IHU failure Fox-1 will continue to operate its FM repeater in a basic, ‘zombie sat’ mode, so that the repeater remains on-the-air.

o Fox-1 is designed as the immediate replacement for AO-51. Its U/V (Mode B) transponder will make it even easier to work with modest equipment.

o From the ground user’s perspective, the same FM amateur radio equipment used for AO-51 may be used for Fox-1.

AMSAT’s Fox-1 project timeline is based on targeting a launch in the second half of 2013. NASA will determine on which flight each of the Project ELaNa CubeSats fly. They have updated their CubeSat Launch Initiative web page including AMSAT’s participation at:

Thanks to the Fox-1 Team for the above information.