KickSat Sprites set for launch March 30

KickSat Sprite satellites deployed - Image by Ben Bishop VK2FBRB

KickSat Sprite satellites deployed – Image by Ben Bishop VK2FBRB

Zac Manchester KD2BHC has released this update on KickSat which will carry 104 tiny Sprite satellites into a 325×315 km 51.5 degree inclination orbit. The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS 3 mission is planned for somewhere between March 30 and April 2.

KickSat 437 MHz Sprite Satellite

KickSat 437 MHz Sprite Satellite

The launch will be from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and you can watch it live on NASA TV, which will also be streaming online on Ustream.

Here’s a rough sequence of events:

  • Falcon 9 launch (0:00)
  • Falcon 9 upper stage separation (+0:03)
  • Dragon capsule separation (+0:10)
  • KickSat deployment from Falcon 9 upper stage (+0:16)
  • KickSat powers on and begins transmitting telemetry (+1:06)
  • Sprite deployment (+16 days and 16 minutes after launch)

The Sprites will be deployed by a timer exactly 16 days after KickSat is deployed from the launch vehicle. The timing was arranged with NASA to avoid interference with ISS operations.

Once KickSat turns on its radio, you should be able to pick it up with very basic Ham radio gear. It will be transmitting telemetry packets in AX.25 format on 437.505 MHz with 1200 baud AFSK modulation. I’ll post KickSat’s orbital elements here and on the project wiki, which will also have more information on setting up a receiving station. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Thanks for your support!

Zac Manchester KD2BHC

This video by Ben Bishop VK2FBRB shows the Sprite deployment

Each Sprite has a microcontroller, radio, and solar cells and is capable of carrying single-chip sensors, such as thermometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and accelerometers.

CRS-3 Dragon spacecraft is mounted on the Falcon 9 rocket

CRS-3 Dragon spacecraft is mounted on the Falcon 9 rocket

All the Sprites satellites operate on a single frequency of 437.240 MHz and use Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). The transmitter runs 10 mW output of Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) modulated binary data with each data bit modulated as a 511 bit Pseudo-Random Number (PRN) sequence. The ITU emission designator is 50K0G1D. The KickSat CubeSat has downlinks on 437.505 MHz and 2401-2436.2 MHz.

Mass Launch of 437 MHz Satellites

KickSat Sprite Ground Station by Andy Thomas G0SFJ

British Interplanetary Society: Sprite Technical Summary

KickSat on KickStarter