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

E-St@r TV Interview

Sabrina Corpino, Team Leader of the E-St@r CubeSat project, is interviewed by ASI TV about the CubeSat that was launched on February 13.

Watch E-St@r – L’intervista


Vega Launch Success – Satellite Signals Heard

New MO-72 Decode Software

MO-72 Masat-1 Telemetry Decode SoftwareThe students who developed the amateur radio satellite MO-72 (Masat-1) have announced that new telemetry decode software is available.

Changes in this new release include:
– “Offline” label removed, the status of the automatic packet reporting is displayed
– Battery voltage constant (on the EPS panel) updated
– Now you can change between 626/1250 bps decoding on the Packets panel
– On the frequency waterfall now you can see tracks for the 0, CW and 1. The decoder is the most sensitive if the signal is in the middle of the highlighted track

Download the new software from

MASAT-1 designated MagyarSat-OSCAR-72 (MO-72)

Khartoum Students Receive CubeSats

MASAT-1 designated MagyarSat-OSCAR-72 (MO-72)

Masat-1 CubeSat

Masat-1 (MO-72) CubeSat

OSCAR Number Administrator Bill Tynan, W3XO reports,
“Congratulations on the successful launch of the MaSat-1 Cubesat that the team at Budapest University of Technology and Economics have been responsible for designing, building and testing.

“Since you have met all of the requirements for being issued an OSCAR number, including coordination through IARU and requesting an OSCAR number, I, under authority vested in me by the President of AMSAT-NA, do hereby name MaSat-1 as MagyarSat-OSCAR-72 or MO-72.”

Bill concludes, “I, and all at AMSAT-NA wish MagyarSat-OSCAR-72 great success in fulfilling all of its mission objectives.”

Source ANS

Vega Launch Success – Satellite Signals Heard

Lift off of Vega

Lift off of Vega - Image Credit ESA

The first Vega, flight VV01, lifted off at 1000 UT Monday, February 13 from the ESA Spaceport at Kourou in the Caribbean carrying eight student built amateur radio satellites and the LARES Laser Relativity Satellite into orbit.

LARES was put into a 1435 by 1452 km 69.5 degree inclination orbit, while the orbit of the amateur radio satellites is 310 by 1441 km.

At 1153 UT Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA reported hearing signals from the satellites as they went past Florida. Signals were first heard in the United Kingdom at around 1207 UT.

In Germany Mike Repprecht DK3WN copied the satellites at an elevation of just 3 degress at 1209 UT, see

A recording of PW-Sat made by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG at 1207 UT can be heard at

In the Czech Republic Mirek Kasal OK2AQ received strong signals from Masat-1

Nittin Muttin VU3TYG received PW-Sat at 1246 UT as it travelled over India, his recording is at

In Sudan Nader ST2NH received signals from AlmaSat-1 and Masat-1.

KO4MA Screenshot of Vega CubeSats

KO4MA Screenshot of Vega CubeSats

As of Monday evening signals had been reported from AlmaSat-1, Goliat, Masat-1, PW-Sat, UniCubeSat and XaTcobeo.

All the Vega amateur radio satellite project teams used the IARU amateur satellite frequency coordination panel service. A benefit of IARU coordination was that all the different UHF satellite signals could be simultaneously captured within the typical 192 kHz bandwidth of a modern Software Defined Radio (SDR).

PW-Sat is the only satellite with a downlink in the 145 MHz band. Its 1200bps BPSK signal on 145.900 MHz is receiveable with an SSB radio and an omni-directional antenna.

When PW-Sat has finished its primary scientific mission it will be reconfigured as a 435/145 MHz FM to DSB transponder for general amateur radio communications. The FM to Double Sideband transponder was first pioneered by amateurs on the satellite AO-16.

PW-Sat carries a deployable drag augmentation device known as the tail. The main objective of this experiment is to test the concept of using atmospheric drag to deorbit the satellite. It is hoped to be able to remove the satellite from orbit at a predicted time, about one year after launch.

The other amateur radio satellites have downlinks in 437 MHz. A small 430 MHz  band Yagi antenna may be used to receive the signals. They are expected to have a lifetime of 3-4 years depending on the atmospheric drag which is higher at sunspot maximum.

Watch the launch of Vega VV01

The Masat-1 satellite team have made available software to decode their 437.345 MHz telemetry data via a PC sound card. The software can be downloaded from

This video shows the eliptical 310 by 1441 km orbit of the satellites.

The prelimary TLEs, used by tracking software to predict the orbits, were generated by a team lead by Paolo Tortora at the University of Bologna in Italy. They proved to be accurate with the satellites appearing at the expected time.

Student amateur radio satellite downlink frequencies:
(Worst case Doppler shift during pass +/-9 kHz at 437 MHz and +/- 3 kHz at 145 MHz)
+ AlmaSat-1   437.465 MHz 1200 bps FSK, 2407.850 MHz
+ E-St@r        437.445 MHz 1200 bps AFSK
+ Goliat          437.485 MHz 1200 bpx AFSK
+ Masat-1      437.345 MHz 625/1250 bps GFSK, CW
+ PW-Sat       145.900 MHz 1200 bps BPSK AX25, CW
+ Robusta      437.325 MHz? (website says now 437.350 MHz) 1200 bps FM telemetry – one data burst of 20 secs every 1 min
+ UniCubeSat 437.305 MHz 9600 bps FSK
+ XaTcobeo     437.365 MHz FFSK with AX.25

Satscape Free Satellite Tracking Software 

Preliminary Vega TLE’s for launch at 1000 UT here

Website URLs for the student satellite are at

ESA report Student CubeSats start talking to Earth

IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination Panel hosted by AMSAT-UK

Solving the TLE lottery

TLEsWhen amateur radio satellites are initially deployed Two Line Elements (TLE) Keplerian orbital data sets for tracking the satellites are released by NORAD. Unfortunately they are only given object identifiers of A, B, C, D etc not satellite names. Some of the debris from the launch and deployment may also be given alphabetic identifiers. The problem is working out which of the 10 or more objects is the satellite you want to listen to.

Mike DK3WN has developed a simple solution to this perennial problem by using an SDR-IQ receiver and a bit of software.

In the case of Masat-1 he chose a high elevation pass (89 deg) where the doppler shift should be significant and recorded the complete pass with his SDR-IQ without doppler correction. With some software he simulated the entire pass with different TLE’s.

He then chose the TLE that best matched the doppler shift of the audio signal.

Read Mike’s full article with pictures on his website at