In 2020, a project between AMSAT-UK, AMSAT-NL and Swiss universities started with the aim of equipping two Swiss satellites with a linear transponder for amateur radio.
With a linear transponder, several QSOs can take place simultaneously. The satellites can be operated in CW/SSB with the simplest equipment. The satellites also include features for classroom demonstrations and experiments. In numerous teleconference discussions, the technical possibilities could be sounded out and the realisation prepared.
The CHESS [Constellation of High Energy Swiss Satellites] project includes two satellites, which will be built simultaneously and later launched as a constellation. Both will provide a linear transponder for amateur radio use. The first satellite will have a nearly circular orbit at an altitude of 400 km. The second will have an elliptical orbit with an altitude of 350×1000 km.
The satellites themselves are a project of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) with support from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU – Institute of Electrical Engineering IET), the University of Bern, the Valais University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HES-SO), the Haute École Neuchâtel and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. The amateur radio payload is a project of AMSAT-UK/-NL.
On 18 December 2020, the successful system requirements review took place. The project coordination between CHESS and AMSAT lies with the Amateur Radio Association of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Technology & Architecture, Horw.
The Swiss AMSAT Operators provide information about the CHESS project at https://www.amsat-hb.org/funcube-chess/
EPFL Spacecraft Team https://www.epflspacecraftteam.com/chess-1