KickSat 437 MHz Sprite Satellite
KickSat-1 is an amateur radio CubeSat technology demonstration mission designed to demonstrate the deployment and operation of 128 prototype Sprites (also referred to as ChipSats or femtosatellites) which were developed by radio amateur Zac Manchester KD2BHC at Cornell University.
315 individual sponsors donated $74,586 to the project through the crowd-source funding website Kickstarter.
KickSat-1 is planned to launch on ELaNa-5 / CRS-3 from Cape Canaveral in early 2014 into a 325 x 315 km 51.5 degree inclination orbit. The CubeSat will operate on 2401.2-2436.2 MHz and when deployed all the 128 Sprites will operate on a single frequency 437.240 MHz and use CDMA. It is believed this will be the largest ever single deployment of satellites.
It the UK both the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) and London Hackspace are developing Sprites for this mission.
ChipSats like the Sprite represent a disruptive new space technology that will both open space access to hobbyists and students and enable new types of science missions.
The Sprite is a tiny spacecraft that includes power, sensor, and communication systems on a printed circuit board measuring 3.5 by 3.5 cm with a thickness of 2.5 mm and a mass of about 5 grams. It is intended as a general-purpose sensor platform for micro-electro-mechanical (MEMS) or other chip-scale sensors with the ability to downlink data to ground stations from LEO.
Sprites in Space
KickSat is a 3U CubeSat being built to carry and deploy the Sprites. A 1U avionics bus will provide power, communications, and command and data handling functions. A 2U deployer has been developed to house the Sprites. Approximately 128 will be stacked atop a spring-loaded pusher and secured by a nichrome burn wire system.
After being released from the P-POD, KickSat will perform a de-tumble maneuver and establish communication with Cornell’s ground station. After check-out, the spacecraft will be put in a sun-pointing attitude and spun up to maintain that attitude.
A command signal from the ground station will then trigger the deployment and the Sprites will be released as free-flying spacecraft. After deployment, telemetry and sensor measurements from the individual Sprites will be received through Cornell’s amateur radio satellite ground station in Ithaca, NY, as well as several other amateur radio ground stations throughout the world.
The Sprites are expected to reenter the atmosphere and burn up within a few days or weeks depending on atmospheric conditions. The maximum orbital lifetime is estimated at 6 weeks.
KickSat Downlink Frequency: 2401.2-2436.2 MHz RF Output Power: 1W ITU Emission Designator: 350KF1D Description: AX.25 over FSK.
Sprite Frequency Band: 437.240 MHz. Output Power: 10 mW ITU Emission Designator: 50K0G1D. Description: MSK modulated binary data with each data bit modulated as a 511 bit PRN sequence. All Sprites operate on a single frequency and use CDMA.
Zac Manchester KD2BHC has said they are aiming for the Sprites to be receivable using an AMSAT-UK FUNcube Dongle SDR.
As well as KickSat-1 several other amateur radio CubeSats are being launched from Cape Canaveral in early 2014 on ELaNa-5 / CRS-3 into a 325 x 315km 51.5 degree inclination orbit. They are: DragonSat-1 – USNA and Drexel University, Trailblazer – University of New Mexico, PrintSat – Montana State University, All-Star/THEIA – University of Colorado, UNP-6 Radar Calibration CubeSat – University of Hawaii, PhoneSat – NASA ARC, MisST – NASA ARC.
More information from http://www.spacecraftresearch.com/MII/MII_overview.html
The current KickSat and Ground Station source code is available at https://github.com/zacinaction/kicksat
KickSat – Zac Manchester KD2BHC Interview http://www.uk.amsat.org/?p=3730
BIS Sprite technical information http://www.bis-space.com/2013/03/09/9301/kicksat-technical-summary
London Hackspace work on HackSat1 http://www.uk.amsat.org/?p=2482
KickSat – a personal spacecraft of your own in space http://www.uk.amsat.org/?p=2164
Kicksat on Kickstarter http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zacinaction/kicksat-your-personal-spacecraft-in-space
IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination Panel status page http://www.amsat.org.uk/iaru