Amateur Radio Smartphone CubeSats to launch 4th Qtr 2012

Watch NewsyTech – Satellites Powered By Smartphones? Yep, and Cheap

NASA Ames Research Center has built two versions of the amateur radio PhoneSat – PhoneSat 1, which costs about $3500, and PhoneSat 2, which costs just under $8,000. Both versions are based on HTC Nexus One smartphones. The first PhoneSats are scheduled to be launched aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares launch vehicle. The launch, funded under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2012. It will carry two PhoneSat 1 satellites and one PhoneSat 2. A second PhoneSat launch is expected to occur in 2013.

UK CubeSat Plasma Propulsion Thruster

STRaND-1 CubeSat Plasma Propulsion Test

STRaND-1 CubeSat Plasma Propulsion Thruster

The amateur radio STRaND-1 smartphone CubeSat is a joint project between SSTL and the Surrey Space Centre (SSC). It’s not only its smartphone that makes it exceptional. Engineers at the Surrey Space Centre have also developed a unique mass and power saving plasma propulsion system to fly on the satellite. This system will be the first propulsive technology to provide very precise attitude control and pointing.

STRaND-1 will carry both a Resistojet and a Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT) module on board. The PPT will consist of eight micro thrusters; four located at the top of the satellite stack and four located at the bottom. The micro thrusters operate by discharging a discrete train of pulses. Each pulse is a plasma discharge that forms between two metal electrodes, much like a small lightning bolt or electrical spark. The spark erodes the metal from the electrodes and electromagnetics accelerate the eroded mass out of the nozzle, which produces thrust. This is known as the Lorentz force.

Surrey Space Centre has developed two ways of minimising mass and volume. Firstly, the electrodes which form the plasma discharge also function as the propellant. As metal is highly dense, more propellant can be stored in a smaller volume than that of conventional chemical propulsion systems. The total weight of the propellant for the whole STRaND-1 PPT system is just 10g.

Secondly, Surrey Space Centre’s novel discharge initiation system uses a mechanical contact trigger built out of a tiny piezoelectric motor only 5mm in length. This takes up less space than the conventional spark plug system which requires volume intensive circuitry.

A video of the Pulsed Plasma Thruster firing can be seen st

Download a video of the STRaND-1 presentation given at the 2011 AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium in Guildford from

A six page article on STRaND-1 appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of the AMSAT-UK publication OSCAR News available for download at

UK Amateur Radio Smartphone CubeSat STRaND-1

STRaND on Facebook

BBC TV – How Satellites Rule Our World

They are constantly circling hundreds of miles above our heads, driving our daily lives – yet we barely give satellites a second thought. Satellite engineer Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock Ph.D., MBE wants to change all that. She wants to make us realise and appreciate what these unsung heroes of the modern world have done for us.

Maggie reveals how satellites have revolutionised exploration, communication, location-finding and spying. She discovers how they have transformed not only the way we see our planet but our understanding of the dangers within it, like volcanoes and earthquakes. Plus, she discovers the jaw-dropping power of the technology used by satellites to make our lives run smoothly.

The final 8 minutes of the show covers CubeSats and features Peter Shaw of the amateur radio STRaND smartphone satellite project.

‘In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World’ was broadcast on BBC 2 at 2100 BST (2000 UT) on Sunday, March 25 and is available to watch on the web at

It is understoood that this broadcast could be blocked in certain countries. A way around this may be to use a Proxy Server or software such as Expat Shield.

Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock Ph.D., MBE

UK Amateur Radio Smartphone CubeSat STRaND-1

Smart Phone Satellite Presentation Video

In the United Kingdom volunteers from SSTL and SSC are using their own, free time to develop STRaND-1 a CubeSat that will carry a Smart Phone.

However Smart Phone satellites aren’t only being developed in the UK, the United States is developing one as well. Radio amateur Mike Safyan KJ6MVL gave a presentation on the US PhoneSat to the 2011 TAPR Digital Communications Conference and thanks to ARVN a video is now available.

A PhoneSat Really? Use an off the shelf smart phone as the guts of a satellite? Yep, that’s what radio amateur Mike Safyan KJ6MVL is doing over at NASA. He described the project in his talk at the 2011 ARRL/TAPR DCC in Baltimore.

Of course, todays phones have way more computer power than typical satellites, updated phones are released like every 5 minutes, and they’re dirt cheap (relatively). But can they hold up and do the job in the rigors of space? So far, Mike’s sent his phone up on a near space balloon and a small rocket, and yes, it works. A full CubeSat launch is next for Mike and crew.

Watch 2011 DCC – PhoneSat

Make: magazine – PhoneSat Aims to Send a Cellphone into Space (video)

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

UK Smartphone CubeSat STRaND-1

Amateur Radio Video News (ARVN)

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.

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