Radio Amateurs get $25,000 for CubeSat project from JPL

Sharlene Katz WB6FFE and James Flynn WB9AWX - Image credit CSUN

Sharlene Katz WB6FFE and James Flynn WB9AWX – Image credit CSUN

Radio hams Professor Sharlene Katz, WB6FFE and Professor James Flynn, WB9AWX have received $25,000 from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a CubeSat project.

There is also an award of $30,000 for the project listed by The University Corporation.

The Daily Sundial newspaper carries a report on the California State University Northridge (CSUN) CubeSat project which says the 2U CubeSat aims to test alternative power techniques for satellites and spacecrafts and is estimated to cost between $60,000 and $80,000.

“And that’s all just parts. Our labor, of course, is for free,” joked Sharlene Katz [WB6FFE], Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Typically, it would cost another $45,000 just to launch the satellite. But thanks to their sponsorship from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, the satellite will be hitching a ride with a shuttle in a few years.

In order to communicate with the CubeSat, the team is also building an automated ground station on top of Jacaranda Hall. The system is going to be using old equipment from a previous experiment.

“There’s a lot of problems with the ground station right now, it’s old equipment,” said member Rufus Simon. “We’re fixing it! Step by step.”

The station will not only help the team track CSUN’s CubeSat, but other satellites as well. It will become part of the Global Educational Network for Satellite Operations (GENSO), which is a community of universities across the world who track and communicate with satellites.

Phase two of the project is set to start during the fall semester of 2013, and the team is hoping to complete the satellite by December of 2014.

Read the full Daily Sundial story at

CSUN New Sponsored Programs

CSUN Research & Sponsored Projects

Global Educational Network for Satellite Operations (GENSO)

HumSAT-D CubeSat

HumSAT Mission Concept

HumSAT Mission Concept

HumSAT-D is a 1U CubeSat mission developed by the University of Vigo. It is planning to use MSK telemetry and a CW beacon on UHF. The main mission is educational: to provide a hands-on experience to the students in the complete process of developing a space mission.

The other goal is to demonstrate the validity of the concept of HumSAT. A new subsystem to collect data from sensors located on the ground, store on-board and transmit it to ground stations will be developed and validated in orbit.

Universities and amateurs are invited to develop their own sensors compatible with HumSAT.

HumSAT-D is planning a launch from Russia into a Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) at 700km.

HumSAT System

The main purpose of the HumSAT system is the development of a satellite-based system for connecting a set of users with a network of worldwide distributed sensors which they have previously deployed.

Sensors will be responsible for acquiring user data and for transmitting it to the satellites through an standard radio interface (SSI interface, definition of this interface is published here). Users will be able to define their own sensors, for monitoring different types of parameters; for example, water temperature or wind speed.

For retrieving data from the satellites, the GENSO network of ground stations will be one of the core components of the data distribution system. Several universities from different ESA member states, Japan and USA are coperating in this project, whose second release (R2) is expected to provide the functionalities that the HumSAT system will require. For more information about the GENSO project, please visit the website.

Once data has been transported by HumSAT satellites, authorized users will be able to access it through an Internet connection. Several security restrictions shall be applied for guaranteeing a correct access to the data gathered.


HumSAT: example for international cooperation in small satellite missions

IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination pages hosted by AMSAT-UK

Connecting Students with Space

The GENSO project features in an article in the February 2012 edition of the free magazine ESA Bulletin.

GENSO is a worldwide network of education and amateur radio ground stations linked together via the internet.

Student satellite teams can normally only gather around 20 minutes of data per day from their satellite using their own ground station. GENSO will give them free access to potentially hundreds of stations around the globe and increase their data return to many hours per day. It will also allow them to command their spacecraft from the other side of the world.

A team from AMSAT-UK supported this project by developing a standard ground station specification together with a full set of software drivers for the different hardware items.

The software development was carried out in a cooperative effort of students and radio amateurs worldwide.

The 2008 AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium featured a demonstration and presentations on GENSO.

The five page article starts on page 39 and the amateur radio stations of Graham Shirville G3VZV, Dave Johnson G4DPZ and David Mynatt KA0SWT get a brief mention on page 43. Read the ESA Bulletin online at

AMSAT-UK and ESA co-operation on GENSO


KickSat – a personal spacecraft of your own in space

The website has been launched to give hundreds of people the opportunity to sponsor a small spacecraft they can call their own that will be launched into space. is a spare time project run by Zac Manchester KD2BHC, an aerospace engineering graduate student at Cornell University, to launch a CubeSat filled with hundreds of Sprite ChipSat proof of concept spacecraft that he has developed into low earth orbit to demonstrate their viability. He needs to raise at least $30,000 to do the mission and has launched a public appeal to help raise the funds for the project via and the KickStarter creative project funding website.

Donors who donate $300 or more will be able to call one of the Sprite spacecraft their own, name it and specify a short message that it will transmit. Groups and clubs can sponsor small fleets of Sprites. The transmissions of the small spacecraft will be able to be received by amateur radio operators around the world with the appropriate equipment including members of the GENSO network.

Zac is doing the project because he is passionate about the democratisation of space exploration and hopes that by encouraging members of the public to be involved in hands on space research many more, and more ambitious, missions might be possible in future.

Watch Zac KD2BHC’s video

Daily Mail newspaper – Your own personal Sputnik: Launch a satellite and beam signals from orbit for just $300