AMSAT-UK Attend UK Space Agency CubeSat Conference

Graham Shirville G3VZV on the AMSAT-UK Stand at the UKSA CubeSat Community Workshop

Graham Shirville G3VZV on the AMSAT-UK Stand at the UKSA CubeSat Community Workshop

AMSAT-UK attended the CubeSat Community Conference organized by the UK Space Agency (UKSA) which was held at the Open University.

Workshop sessions included:

• Update on UKube-1

• Plans for UKube-2

• Fostering a stronger and wider UK CubeSat Community
Identifying potential user groups who would benefit from using cubesat data (e.g. commercial applications such as utilities companies, telecoms, and government departments etc), and how to engage with them more effectively [note that the National Space Conference in July 2013 in Glasgow could consider hosting a session to facilitate this process]

• Overcoming Obstacles
Common obstacles associated with launching cubesats and how to clarify/streamline them: availability, cost, export controls, applicability of the Outer Space Act, licences, radio frequency allocation, issue of cubesats as space debris

• Developing Education/Outreach Benefits for the UK with the UKube X Program
STEM outreach and school education benefits and how to take this forward with a UKube X programme, including options for Harwell/other involvement to underpin academic/amateur missions with strong research/outreach/education benefits

• Accelerating Disruptive Technologies
Identifying key technology developments with implications for economic growth and possible sources of external co-funding. Defining a UKube x roadmap to tie in with the NSTP roadmaps. Possibilities for synergies and collaborations with international partners

UKube-1 CubeSat Featured in SatMagazine

SatMagazine January 2013The January issue of the free publication SatMagazine features an article on the UK Space Agency’s first satellite UKube-1. It will carry an amateur radio subsystem and a launch on a Soyuz rocket is planned for the 3rd quarter of 2013.

The article on page 6 includes a picture of Steve Greenland of Clyde Space taking delivery of a set of AMSAT-UK FUNcube boards which will provide a 435/145 MHz linear transponder and a 145.915 MHz BPSK telemetry beacon for educational outreach.

Starting on page 24 is an article ‘Truly Educational Experiences… With Nanosats’ covering the University Nanosat program.

Download the January 2013 SatMagazine from

Ukube-1 – Milton Keynes Cubesat Community Workshop January 22

Clyde Space

Cubesat Community Workshop

The UK Space Agency will be running a Cubesat Community Workshop in January. Registration for the workshop is now open. This is a free event and is open to all, hosted by the Open University, Milton Keynes, on 22 January 2013. Please note that space is limited and places will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.

The event will be an opportunity for the UK Space Agency to provide the cubesat community with an update on its pilot cubesat mission UKube-1, due for launch in early 2013, and to discuss the overall philosophy and timing for the proposed UKube-2 programme. Attendees will have the opportunity to provide input on the future direction of a proposed rolling national programme of cubesat missions.

Parallel breakout sessions will be held as detailed in the downloadable programme. These themes have been selected in response to the common issues raised by members of the community. The findings from each session will feed into a concluding discussion in which follow up actions will be identified.

To confirm attendance, please email indicating which breakout session you would prefer to attend, by the 21st December. One of the stated aims of the workshop is to encourage more potential cubesat users to engage with the programme, therefore please share the news.

Download the proposed programme. (PDF, 17 Kb)

Astronaut Tim Peake invites students to apply for space class of 2013

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut of British nationality Tim Peake is encouraging school children to get fit and stay active at the Farnborough International Airshow this week. Budding young astronauts aged 8 to 13 from across the UK are invited to take part in the international challenge Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut – a programme to encourage school students to focus more on fitness and nutrition.

Tim Peake.

The programme developed by the partners of the International Space Station (ISS) uses astronaut training to teach how good diet and exercise play an important role in human performance in space and on the Earth. The programme is free and the activities can be used by individuals, schools or community groups. The international challenge will start in January 2013.

Mission X logoTim Peake is taking a short break from his own astronaut training to attend the Airshow and invite schools to participate in the Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut 2013 challenge. At Farnborough Airshow Tim spoke to teachers, students and families about his own astronaut training and challenged them to take part in the astronaut fitness programmes available as part of Mission X.

Tim as well as being a test pilot and ESA astronaut is also a keen runner, skier and scuba diver.
4000 UK students from over 44 British schools have already taken part in the Mission X challenges in 2011 and 2012. Students had the opportunity to take part in live link-ups with the International Space Station and find out about life in space. As well as Tim Peake, Mission X UK has been supported by ESA astronauts Andr Kuipers and Paolo Nespoli, NASA astronaut Piers Sellers and private astronaut Richard Garriott.
Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education at the UK Space Agency noted:

The UK Space Agency is enabling children to access astronaut training and nutrition regimes and learn about the science behind them

“This is a unique opportunity to find out first hand about astronaut training and to find out how you can get involved in Mission X – Train Like An Astronaut. The UK Space Agency is enabling children to access astronaut training and nutrition regimes and learn about the science behind them. The children taking part will also learn about space and could be the space explorers of the future.”

Tim Peake commented:
Spaceflight can be physically demanding and part of my job is to train hard so that I‘m always ready to go into space

“Being fit and healthy is a key requirement for future astronauts. Spaceflight can be physically demanding and part of my job is to train hard so that I‘m always ready to go into space. It’s much easier to exercise on earth than in microgravity! The real mission is to encourage kids today to exercise and eat a healthy diet, and astronaut training exercises are an exciting, fun way to do it.”

People have been flocking from around the world to visit the UK Space Agency in the Space Zone at Farnborough. The latest industry developments and cutting edge technology are on display to demonstrate the work being done to layout the future direction for space. Space is a growing industry with a bright future. One of the ways the Agency nourishes and supports it is by inspiring the next generation of space scientists, engineers and enthusiasts.

The next Mission X challenge will be launching in January 2013 – with the expectation of doubling the intake from 4000 to 8000 students across the UK. To find out more about how your children or school can be involved, register your interest.

UKube-1 is Taking Shape

UKube-1, the programme to launch the UK Space Agency’s first Cubesat mission, has reached an important milestone. Two payloads have now undergone pre-integration testing at Clyde Space’s facilities in Glasgow.

UKube-1. Credit: Clyde Space.

UKube-1. Credit: Clyde Space.

Miniature satellite UKube-1, is a collaboration between the UK Space Agency, industry and academia. Open University payload C3D and University of Bath payload TOPCAT were the first of the four payloads selected to be tested. These workshops provided the first opportunity to carry out physical and functional testing between the protoflight payloadsand platform subsystems.C3D imager. Credit: Clyde Space/Open University. (JPG, 2.7 Mb) 

The tests confirmed physical, electrical and operational interfaces between the subsystems. The tests represent the successful handover to flight integration and delivery from the interface emulator (supplied to payload teams by Clyde Space at the start of the program to facilitate rapid parallel development of subsystems).

C3D is a small imager which will take pictures of the earth and investigate radiation damage effects in space. It uses new sensor technology developed for space conditions.

TOPCAT (Topside Ionosphere Computer Assisted Tomography) will measure space weather conditions to inform users of the Global Positioning System (GPS) users using a dual-frequency GPS receiver designed especially for use in space.

With the remaining payloads due to be tested over the coming few weeks, the program continues confidently towards full integration in July.

UKube-1 will also take an educational subsystem called FUNcube, developed by the voluntary organisation AMSAT-UK, to encourage young people to learn about radio, space, physics and electronics. It contains a 1200 bps BPSK telemetry beacon and a 435/145 MHz linear transponder.

UKube-1 on BBC TV

UKube-1 to launch in 2013

50 years of the UK in space

This is a year of momentous milestones in the life of Britain, ranging from Charles Dickens’ bicentenary to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Adding further significance to 2012 is the UK space industry, which has a golden anniversary to mark: the launch of the nation’s first satellite, Ariel-1, on April 26th 1962.
In the news
Built by NASA in collaboration with a team of British academics, Ariel-1 was the world’s first international satellite, and constituted the foundation of the UK space sector – now annually worth £7.5 billion to the UK economy, and supportive of some 70,000 jobs across a variety of the nation’s industries.
To mark this special anniversary, the UK Space Agency is presenting a two-day space symposium on the 26th and 27th of April, at the home of their active co-hosts, the Science Museum. Now a year old, the UKSA has much to be enthusiastic about; and the symposium will commemorate past achievements, and explore the future direction of Britain’s thriving space industry – with contributions from some of the leading players in the sector today.

The UK Space Agency was founded to provide strategic support to the sector, while making significant investments through its 230m civil space budget. Almost 90 per cent of the agency’s budget currently goes to the European Space Agency, for collaborative pan-European space projects. This strategy is helping to secure Britain’s role as a key player in the development of Europe’s space going future.

SSTL is a case in point; with its current role in the European Commission’s European GNSS program. The company will assemble eight batches of satellite navigational payloads, on top of the 14 it is already building. In addition, the UK government recently announced that it would invest in the development of NovaSAR, SSTL’s small radar satellite. The space agency’s work signifies government recognition of the groundbreaking work in space technology by UK universities, research centres, and companies like SSTL.


SSTL is itself of historical significance, as the creator of the first ‘talking satellite’, UoSAT-1 in 1981. Their current work in nanosatellite and microsatellite technology, is a far cry from the ancestral Ariel-1, which had the aesthetics of a 1950’s ‘sci-fi’ fantasy space craft: multiple, sphere-like radio antennas protruding from a cylindrical body; multiple solar arrays; inertia booms to control the craft’s spin, and a 100-minute tape to store a single orbit’s worth of data.

Perhaps the most dramatic contrast in SSTL’s current work, to the ‘little-green-man’ craft that was Ariel-1, is its Smartphone satellite STRaND-1. This unique nanosatellite is designed around a Google Nexus One, Android Smartphone. In a playful nod to classic science-fictions’ dream of a space-going future, is the inclusion of an App on the phone that tests out the film Alien’s infamous slogan: ‘In space no-one can hear you scream’.

Providing SSTL’s contribution to the UK Space Agency’s symposium, will be Shaun Kenyon, lead System Engineer on the aforementioned, nanosatellite STRaND-1. On the 26th, 
he will discuss the importance of flagship projects and small satellites to UK space technology. Shaun’s insights will help to put in context the retrospective significance of Ariel-1, as he expounds his belief in the importance of satellite technology and low cost access to space for commercial endeavours.

Robin Wolstenholme