Radio ham describes “nearly drowning” during space walk

Luca Parmitano KF5KDP / IR0ISS  on Expedition 36 EVA July 9, 2013 - Image credit ESA

Luca Parmitano KF5KDP / IR0ISS
on Expedition 36 EVA July 9, 2013 – Image credit ESA

“I can’t even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid”

These are the words of Luca Parmitano KF5KDP / IR0ISS describing his recent space walk during which his spacesuit leaked.

Read his blog – EVA 23: exploring the frontier

Radio Ham’s Leaky Spacesuit

Astronaut Luca Parmitano KF5KDP talks about his ham radio contacts

Huffington Post – Astronaut Luca Parmitano Recounts Nearly Drowning During Spacewalk

OPS-SAT Opportunity for Radio Amateurs

CAD drawing og OPS-SAT - credit ESA

CAD drawing of OPS-SAT – credit ESA

OPS-SAT provides a rare opportunity for testing new amateur radio software for use on a CubeSat actually in space. The 3U CubeSat has deployable solar arrays and plans to launch in 2016 into a Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Although the formal closing dates for expressions of interest from potential experimenters for this project has now closed, contact has been made with Dave Evans at ESA-ESOC who has confirmed that they would be very interested to receive proposals from an AMSAT team to develop a novel use of this spacecraft for amateur radio purposes.

In addition to an X Band downlink and S Band uplinks and downlinks, the spacecraft will carry a simplex transceiver operating with 4k8/9k6 telemetry using GMSK on the 435 MHz band.

It s understood that experimenters will have access to an onboard processor running Linux/Java at 500 to 800 MHz.

The project is open to teams led by a group from any ESA member country (this includes Canada) and initial info is shown here although the detailed design is being rapidly iterated.

It is emphasised that this is a very open project which will require lots of interaction between the contributing groups.

Bright ideas are needed from our software experts and If there is sufficient interest it may be possible to host a Skype conference about this opportunity during the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium over the weekend of July 20-21.

It is not proposed that this should be an AMSAT-UK led project, but Graham Shirville G3VZV is happy to provide some initial coordination!

OPS-SAT Evolving Software Technology for Spacecraft Operations

ESA announce six CubeSats chosen for Phase 1

AAUSAT 4 CubeSat

AAUSAT 4 CubeSat

Six student teams and their supervisors have gathered at ESA’s ESTEC centre in The Netherlands for the kick-off of the new Fly Your Satellite! Programme under the ESA Education Office.

On June 26-28, ESA experts will introduce the objectives and present the activities to be performed during the first phase of the programme.

In January, ESA’s Education Office announced the ‘Fly Your Satellite!’ initiative. This is aimed at offering student teams the opportunity to become familiar with good engineering practice to build and perform satellite testing in order to increase the chances of a successful mission. The 2013 edition of the programme is however only focussing on testing selected university-built satellites that are already at an advanced stage of development.

Launch of Vega VV01

Launch of Vega VV01

‘Fly Your Satellite!’ builds on the success of the ‘CubeSats for the Vega Maiden Flight’ pilot programme. This culminated in 2012 with the launch of seven student-built CubeSats on the first flight of the new ESA Vega launcher.

The focus of the kick-off meeting will consist of coordinating the activity to be performed during the first phase of Fly Your Satellite! enabling the teams to complete the construction of their satellite. This will include extensive satellite testing in ambient conditions under the supervision of ESA specialists who will decide which satellites should participate in the next phase of the programme.

The second phase will see the satellites tested in the simulated conditions of outer space and in those the satellites will experience at launch. These will include vibration and thermal-vacuum tests.

ConSat-1 engineering model

ConSat-1 engineering model

The six CubeSats chosen for Phase 1 are:

Robusta-1B from France will validate a radiation test methodology for specific transistor components.

Oufti-1 from Belgium will demonstrate the D-STAR digital communication protocol and validate high-efficiency solar cells.

ConSat-1 from Canada will analyse radiation characteristics in the South-Atlantic Anomaly, and test technology payloads.

e-st@r-II from Italy will test an Active-Attitude Determination Control System.

AAUSAT4 from Denmark will test an improved version of student built AIS (Automated Identification System) receivers.

Politech.1 from Spain will carry a student built C-band communication system, a “GEODEYE” Earth Observation camera for academic purposes, and solar wind experiments.

Read the full ESA article at

Fly Your Satellite! initiative

ESTCube-1 – Estonia’s First CubeSat

Vega VV02 lift-off from Kourou on May 7, 2013 at 02:06 UT

Vega VV02 lift-off from Kourou on May 7, 2013 at 02:06 UT

Estonia’s first CubeSat ESTCube-1, amateur radio callsign ES5E, was launched from Kourou in the Caribbean on May 7 at 0206 UT on an ESA Vega rocket into a 704 km orbit. Also on the same launch were Vietnam’s VNREDSat-1A and ESA’s Proba‑V satellites.

ESTCube-1 - Image credit University of Tartu

ESTCube-1 – Image credit University of Tartu

This Vega mission required five upper-stage boosts and lasted about twice as long as its first launch, in February 2012.

The three solid-propellant stages performed flawlessly and, after two burns of the liquid-propellant upper stage, Proba‑V was released into a circular orbit at an altitude of 820 km, over the western coast of Australia, some 55 minutes into flight.

After releasing Proba-V, the upper stage performed a third burn and the top half of the egg-shaped Vega Secondary Payload Adapter was ejected. After a fourth burn to circularize the orbit at an altitude of 704 km, VNREDSat-1A was released 1 hour 57 minutes into flight. ESTCube‑1 was ejected from its dispenser three minutes later.

ESTCube-1 was built by students at the University of Tartu. The main mission of the satellite is to test electric solar wind sail technology, a novel space propulsion technology that could revolutionize transportation within the solar system. It will deploy a 10 meter conductive electrodynamic tether and the force interacting with the tether will be measured.

ESTCube-1 at press conference in Tallinn before shipping January 21, 2013 - Image credit University of Tartu

ESTCube-1 at press conference in Tallinn before shipping January 21, 2013 – Image credit University of Tartu

The technology is based on the electrostatic interaction between the electric field generated by the satellite and the high-speed particles being ejected from the Sun. A spacecraft utilizing this method would first deploy a set of electrically charged wires, which allow to generate an electric field over a large area. This area effectively forms a “sail” that can be pushed by the charged particles by being diverted by it and therefore transferring momentum to the craft.

The team also aim to capture images of Estonia for outreach purposes.

The IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination Panel have published these frequencies for ESTCube-1
437.250 MHz – CW beacon, callsign ES5E/S
437.505 MHz – 9600 bps AX.25 telemetry, callsign ES5E-11

The CW beacon has been received slightly high of the published frequency on 437.2515 MHz (+/- Doppler shift). Among those reporting the signal have been Nader Omer ST2NH in Sudan, Mike Rupprecht DK3WN in Germany, and Hector Martinez CO6CBF in Cuba who was using an AMSAT-UK FUNcube Dongle SDR.

Watch Estonian’s ESTCube-1

Watch Exploded view of ESTCube-1

Electric solar wind sail

EstCube on Facebook

EstCube website

Wiki EstCube-1

ESA report on launch and deployment

Keplerian Two Line Elements (TLEs) ‘Keps’ for new satellites launched in past 30 days

Keplerian Two Line Elements (TLEs) ‘Keps’ for CubeSats are at

Free satellite tracking software:
• SimpleSat Look Down
• Gpredict
• Orbitron

ESTCube Ground Station Antennas

ESTCube Ground Station Antennas

Vega’s three-satellite payload is integrated and ready for launch

Vega April 2013ESA report the payload “stack” for Vega’s second mission from  has been completed and is ready for the planned launch from Kourou on May 2.

After its deployment by Vega on the upcoming flight, Proba-V will begin the satellite’s mission of mapping land cover and vegetation growth across the Earth every two days. The miniaturized ESA satellite is to provide data for the instrument’s worldwide scientific user community and service providers once its in-orbit commissioning is completed.

Proba-V was produced by prime contractor QinetiQ Space Belgium and carries a new, advanced version of the Vegetation instrument – the latest in a series already deployed on France’s full-sized Spot-4 and Spot-5 satellites, which have been observing the planet since 1998 after their launches by Arianespace.

The Astrium-built VNREDSat-1 will support the Vietnamese government’s initiative to create an infrastructure enabling better studies of climate change effects, improving predictions for natural disasters and optimizing the country’s natural resource management.  It was built on behalf of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.

ESTCube-1 is to test electric solar wind sail technologies and help establish an Estonian infrastructure for future space projects. This satellite was produced in a collaboration of students from Tartu University, Estonian Aviation Academy, Tallinn University of Technology and University of Life Sciences – and developed in conjunction with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the German Space Center (DLR).

Once in orbit, ESTCube-1 will deploy a small conductive tether which is to be electrically charged to 500 Volts using electron guns contained within the 10 x 10 x 10-cm. cubesat.

ESTCube-1 frequencies:
437.250 MHz – CW beacon, callsign ES5E/S
437.505 MHz – 9600 bps AX.25 telemetry, callsign ES5E-11

Read the full ESA story at

Tania in Space Comic Book

Tania in Space

Tania in Space

The French language version of the European Space Agency (ESA) website reports the latest in the series of comic books about the Adventures of Tania in Space was published on March 22, 2013.

ESA report that as well as the adventures of Tania the 176 page publication features articles on space and is prefaced by several astronauts such as Frank De Winne, Dirk Frimout, Jean-François Clervoy and Jean-Pierre Haigneré of ESA and even Pamela Melroy and Piers Sellers of NASA.

ESA report on the new comic book

The comic book is published by Editions Joker

Space adventures of Tania