On Tuesday, February 11, 2014 astronaut Koichi Wakata KC5ZTA successfully deployed the first of the 33 CubeSats that were launched from the Wallops Flight Facility, VA to the International Space Station (ISS) in the Cygnus freighter on January 9.
The first two of the Flock-1 constellation of 28 Dove 3U CubeSats developed by Planet Labs were deployed at about 0831 UT Feb 11 into a 409 x 418 km orbit with another two Dove CubeSats deployed at 1241 UT.
Eight NanoRacks deployers are installed on the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP). Each deployer has a capacity of 6U and so can hold up to six 1U CubeSats or two 3U CubeSats. They are carried by Japanese Experiment Module-Remote Manipulator System (JEM-RMS).
Two 3U CubeSats can be deployed every one to two orbits to prevent collisions. For Flock-1 two deployments took place each day.
Deployment summary, all times UT, possible object numbers in brackets
0831 Feb 11 – Flock-1-1, Flock-1-2 (39512, 39515)
1241 Feb 11 – Flock-1-3, Flock-1-4 (39516, 39517)
0235 Feb 12 – Flock-1-5, Flock-1-6 deployment fails
???? Feb 12 – Flock-1-7, Flock-1-8 deployment fails ?
0830 Feb 12 – Flock-1-9, Flock-1-10 (39518, 39519)
0820 Feb 13 – Flock-1-5, Flock-1-6 (39520, 39521)
0415 Feb 14 – Flock-1-11, Flock-1-12
1146 Feb 14 – Flock-1-13, Flock-1-14
0700 Feb 15 – Flock-1-7, Flock-1-8
1055 Feb 15 – Flock-1-15, Flock-1-16 (39531, 39532)
The deployment pods were then returned to the airlock to be loaded with the final batch of CubeSats.
In addition to the 28 Planet Labs CubeSats there are four amateur radio CubeSats – LituanicaSat-1, LitSat-1, ArduSat-2, UAPSat-1 – and the 915 MHz SkyCube.
LituanicaSat-1 carries a 145/435 MHz FM transponder while LitSat-1 is thought to carry a 435/145 MHz linear transponder for SSB/CW communications.
The IARU coordinated frequencies are listed as:
• FM Transponder Uplink 145.950 MHz Downlink 435.180 MHz
• AX25 Uplink 145.850 MHz AX25 Downlink 437.550 MHz
• CW Beacon 437.275 MHz
• SSB Transponder Uplink 435.180 MHz Downlink 145.950 MHz
• AX25 Uplink 437.550 MHz Downlink 145.850 MHz
• 9k6 MSK CCSDS data format downlink 437.? MHz
• AX.25 Packet Radio uplink 145.980 MHz downlink 437.385 MHz
Koichi Wakata KC5ZTA https://twitter.com/Astro_Wakata
Planet Labs https://twitter.com/planetlabs
A Dove in Space https://twitter.com/adoveinspace
Southern Stars https://twitter.com/south_stars
Video of NanoRacks interview: Deploying CubeSats from the Space Station
CubeSats deployments are streamed live at http://m.ustream.tv/channel/live-iss-stream
Jonathan’s Space Report (JSR) has been covering robotic and human spaceflight activity for 25 years