AO, Cubesat Mission Concept Studies

A CubeSat in Space

A CubeSat in Space

(Source: Technology Strategy Board)

CubeSats offer huge potential to accelerate technology development of sensors and instruments in a miniaturised package for deployment in space. New technology concepts for space missions can be demonstrated on CubeSat payloads, delivering a test bed at low cost and significantly reduced timescales.

The UK Space Agency is currently funding a pilot programme, called Ukube1, to demonstrate the capabilities of a CubeSats with a launch towards the end of 2012. If successful, this pilot project could pave the way for a national programme starting in the third quarter of 2012, offering launch opportunities every 12-18 months. The aims of a national programme will also encompass the delivery of educational opportunities and science applications as well as testing new technologies.

Proposals are invited to develop CubeSat preparatory studies for future mission concepts e.g. UKube-2. The concept can address a scientific theme or be of an in-orbit technology demonstration nature (e.g. formation flying), providing a real impact to the UK. All UK based communities (academic, industrial and other) are invited to submit proposals. Applications can be made individually or in partnership with other organisations, however industry and academia will be funded under the rules stipulated in the scope of funding presented below.

Funding is available up to £35K per proposal; the size of award will depend on the requirements of the proposed project and the applicants’ case for support. Proposals should not exceed a grant value of £35K. Funding will be awarded in 2012 and the project cannot exceed 3 months duration. Due to the short nature of these studies and the amount of funding available, we intend funding successful applicants at the onset of the project. It is anticipated the scheme will fund a minimum of 7 proposals; the facility to fund more will depend on the size of awards and will be assessed on a competitive basis as detailed below. The deadline for submission of proposals is 01 February 2012, 12pm.

See TSB website for more information

Vega rocket ready for first flight

 

Vega VV01 liftoff
Flight VV01

Vega rocket ready for first flight

19 January 2012
Final checkout of Europe’s new Vega launcher was completed last Friday, marking another milestone towards its maiden flight from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The first Vega launch campaign began in November with the installation of the P80 first stage on the launch pad. The two solid-propellant second and third stages were added to the vehicle, followed by the AVUM – Attitude & Vernier Upper Module – liquid-propellant fourth stage.  

AVUM pressurisation
AVUM pressurisation

All four stages have undergone final acceptance, including the testing of the avionics, guidance, telemetry, propulsion, separation pyrotechnics and safety systems.These steps culminated on 13 January with Vega’s ‘synthesis control checks’, where all systems were put into launch mode for the vehicle’s final acceptance. This included pressurising the AVUM propulsion systems that actuate the thruster valves.

The rocket’s elements were switched on from the control bench to simulate the launch countdown. The onboard software then took over and simulated the different stages of a flight. The interfaces between the vehicle and the control bench were also tested.

The test review confirmed that everything ran as expected and that the launcher is ready for flight.

AVUM in mobile gantry
AVUM

What’s next?

The ‘upper composite’ – the fairing and payload – will be integrated, followed by final checkout of the fully assembled launcher and the countdown rehearsal.

The first launch, VV01, is targeted for 9 February. It will carry nine satellites into orbit: the Italian space agency’s LARES and ALMASat-1, together with seven CubeSats from European universities.

This mission aims to qualify the Vega launch system, including the vehicle, its launch infrastructure and operations, from the launch campaign to payload separation and disposal of the upper module.

Artist's impression of Vega
Vehicle VV01

A flexible system

Vega is designed to cope with a wide range of missions and payload configurations in order to respond to different market opportunities and provide great flexibility.

In particular, it offers configurations able to handle payloads ranging from a single satellite up to one main satellite plus six microsatellites.

Vega is compatible with payload masses ranging from 300 kg to 2500 kg, depending on the type and altitude of the orbit required by the customers. The benchmark is for 1500 kg into a 700 km-altitude polar orbit.

More information on Vega and updates are now available on the new launch website here.

Announcement of Opportunity: CubeSat Mission Concept Studies

The core of the UK Space Agency strategy is to lead and sustain the growth of the UK Space Sector. In support of this the National Space Technology Programme (NSTP) promotes the development of new commercial and scientific applications by offering grant funding for truly novel concepts to be fully explored.

CubeSats offer huge potential to accelerate technology development of sensors and instruments in a miniaturised package for deployment in space. New technology concepts for space missions can be demonstrated on CubeSat payloads, delivering a test bed at low cost and significantly reduced timescales. The CubeSat is a relatively new concept, which is maturing rapidly, in which the UK has existing leading capability.

This NSTP programme is to facilitate the acceleration of space technologies up the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) curve but can also attract new players into the space sector by offering a low cost route to getting flight heritage. To follow, the NSTP Pathfinder studies programme is to be released in early 2012 and will be specifically to develop technology concepts.

Vega to Launch Amateur Radio Satellites

Artists impression of Vega launch

Artists impression of Vega launch

The inaugural launch of the ESA Vega rocket will carry the amateur radio microsatellite ALMASat-1 and at least six CubeSats.

The satellites will be launched from the ESA spaceport at Kourou in the Caribbean into an elliptical orbit of 1450 by 354 km at an inclination of 71 degrees. They are expected to have a lifetime before re-entry of 4 years.

ESA say the six CubeSats to be launched on Vega in late January 2012 comprise:

Xatcobeo (a collaboration of the University of Vigo and INTA, Spain): a mission to demonstrate software-defined radio and solar panel deployment;
Robusta (University of Montpellier 2, France): a mission to test and evaluate radiation effects (low dose rate) on bipolar transistor electronic components;
e-st@r (Politecnico di Torino, Italy): demonstration of an active 3-axis Attitude Determination and Control system including an inertial measurement unit;
Goliat (University of Bucharest, Romania): imaging of the Earth surface using a digital camera and in-situ measurement of radiation dose and micrometeoroid flux;
PW-Sat (Warsaw University of Technology, Poland): a mission to test a deployable atmospheric drag augmentation device for de-orbiting CubeSats;
MaSat-1 (Budapest University of Technology and Economics): a mission to demonstrate various spacecraft avionics, including a power conditioning system, transceiver and on-board data handling.

ESA indicate that a 7th CubeSat may be delivered in time to be flown.

PW-Sat carries an FM to DSB amateur radio transponder with an FM input on 435.020 MHz and DSB output on 145.900 MHz.

The primary payload on the launch, LARES, will be deployed into an orbit of 1200 km × 1200 km with an inclination of 71 degrees.

Frequencies and links for the CubeSats can be found at http://www.ne.jp/asahi/hamradio/je9pel/esa9cubf.htm

ESA CubeSats delivered for first Vega flight http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Education/SEM3L0WWVUG_0.html

ESA Education – CubeSats http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Education/SEM3N03MDAF_0.html

The IARU amateur satellite frequency coordination pages hosted by AMAT-UK list the frequencies of the amateur radio satellites http://www.amsat.org.uk/iaru/

ALMASat-1 http://www.almasat.org/

Announcement of Opportunity: CubeSat Mission Concept Studies

The core of the UK Space Agency strategy is to lead and sustain the growth of the UK Space Sector. In support of this the National Space Technology Programme (NSTP) promotes the development of new commercial and scientific applications by offering grant funding for truly novel concepts to be fully explored.

CubeSats offer huge potential to accelerate technology development of sensors and instruments in a miniaturised package for deployment in space. New technology concepts for space missions can be demonstrated on CubeSat payloads, delivering a test bed at low cost and significantly reduced timescales. The CubeSat is a relatively new concept, which is maturing rapidly, in which the UK has existing leading capability.

This NSTP programme is to facilitate the acceleration of space technologies up the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) curve but can also attract new players into the space sector by offering a low cost route to getting flight heritage. To follow, the NSTP Pathfinder studies programme is to be released in early 2012 and will be specifically to develop technology concepts.

FUNcube Dongle SDR in CQ Ham Radio

A review of the AMSAT-UK FUNcube Dongle VHF/UHF Software Defined Radio has just been published in CQ Ham Radio magazine.

The review can be seen at
http://www.funcubedongle.com/MyImages/35a.pdf

However, it’s in Japanese so we are none the wiser as to what it says but it looks good.

The FUNcube Dongle SDR’s have been used for a wide variety of applications including:

Weather Satellites
http://www.uk.amsat.org/2011/09/19/indian-noaa-apt-images-
with-the-amsat-ukfuncube-dongle-sdr/

http://www.uk.amsat.org/2011/08/19/weather-sat-picture
-received-with-funcube-dongle/

A Software Defined Radio Telescope
http://www.britastro.org/radio/projects/An_SDR_Radio_Telescope.pdf

Reception of 433/434 MHz balloons launched by radio amateurs such as
http://www.southgatearc.org/news/december2011/
digital_pictures_sent_from_balloon.htm

Earth-Moon-Earth (Moon Bounce) communications
http://www.uk.amsat.org/2011/10/26/korean-eme-test-with-
funcube-dongle/

 

The AMSAT-UK FUNcube Yahoo group now has over 2,500 members. You can join at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FUNcube/