US Delegation visits CubeSat

ALMOST READY: The Cubesat is almost ready for its launch into space

CPUT’s satellite endeavours have been given the thumbs up by a delegation from the US National Security Department.

The F’SATI satellite programme which is based at the Bellville Campus and headed by Prof Robert van Zyl was visited by the high profile visitors recently during a tour of the country.

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SkyCube: a social space mission

skycube.

Southern Stars Group LLC, the company responsible for the popular SkySafari apps for iOS, Android and Mac OS X, is thinking a little bigger with its next project. The publicly funded SkyCube is a miniature CubeSat satellite that will orbit the planet, transmitting low-resolution images of the Earth while broadcasting short messages from sponsors in the form of data pings. In short, it’s the world’s first social space mission.

The hardware involved in the project isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. The satellite itself is a 10x10x10 cm (3.9 cubic-inch) “1U” CubeSat, which is the current leading picosatellite standard with nearly 100 of the devices built and launched to date. The SkyCube will be the second payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, set to launch sometime in 2013.

Once deployed, it will orbit more than 300 miles (483 km) up, taking low-resolution pictures and broadcasting short, simple messages from the project’s sponsors as it crosses over most of the world’s inhabited regions. At the end of the mission, the SkyCube will deploy its 10 ft (3 m) diameter balloon, making it visible from the Earth, with a brightness akin to that of the Hubble Space Telescope. If everything goes to plan, the miniature satellite will eventually return to Earth, brought down by atmospheric drag.

So if you want to broadcast your own short message from space, the Southern Stars Group has got your back, with pledges starting at just US$1. This base option gives you a ten-second time slot on the mission, in which you can broadcast a single 120-character message. The sponsorship options go all the way up to $10k, for which the company will fly two people out to Cape Canaveral from anywhere in the continental US. From there, sponsors can watch the satellite lift off and once it’s successfully in orbit, they can control the SkyCube for an entire day to take pictures, send messages, or just sit back and contemplate the balance of their bank accounts.

The company is also making use of its app-making skills, creating applications for both iOS and Android. These will allow users to track the satellite, send messages and request images.

The SkyCube marks the next step in a series of initiatives and projects that are making space programs far more accessible to the general public. Rocket and spacecraft construction company Interorbital Systems recently announced its project to make space available to all. For $8,000, customers receive both a TubeSat Personal Satellite Kit and launch to low Earth orbit. That’s significantly cheaper than the SkyCube’s CubeSat miniature satellite, which costs around $100k to put in orbit.

So, have something important to say? Well, in 2013 you’ll be able to say it from space. The SkyCube has 57 days to go on Kickstarter, meaning that you’ve got until Wednesday September 12 to secure your chance to “tweet from space.”

Source: Southern Stars

It’s time Australia entered space

https://i2.wp.com/www.davidreneke.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Cubesat.jpg

The rise of small spacecraft could launch Australia’s space program, writes Steven Tsitas. Australia has long delayed the development of a space program, placing it in an almost unique position amongst comparable countries.But now we can develop extremely small yet powerful low-cost spacecraft, it’s time to reconsider whether Australia should have its own space program.

The future of a sustainable Australian space program — one that actually designs and builds its own spacecraft, and perhaps a small rocket to launch them — is small, lightweight spacecraft using advanced technology with significant two-way US involvement.My research indicates a spacecraft the size of a typical shoe-box weighing just 8 kilograms, known as a 6U CubeSat, can perform some of the missions of much larger ‘microsatellites’ weighing around 100 kilograms – or roughly the size of a washing machine.

This 10-times size reduction should make the cost of producing a spacecraft 10-times cheaper — around $1 million versus $10 million.The cost may now be low enough to make it politically possible for Australia to have a sustainable space program based on this spacecraft.Utilising this technology would provide economic opportunities for Australia, improve our strategic relationship with the US and inspire the next generation of students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Economic opportunities

This is perhaps the last chance for Australia to enter this high growth-rate industry in the capacity of designing and building its own spacecraft.

In terms of economic opportunity, the worldwide space industry has annual revenue of $275 billion and a 9 per cent growth rate. But barriers to entry are high, with established players who are decades along the experience curve — except in the last remaining niche of 8 to 40 kilogram spacecraft.Spacecraft cost their weight in gold despite being made from mostly inexpensive raw materials, indicating significant value is added through design and manufacturing.

Australia has the opportunity to earn significant export income through this technology. A high growth rate industry with the opportunity for significant value addition, such as the early days of the personal computing industry or the internet, is considered a good economic opportunity.The fact that the spacecraft can be designed to perform some of the missions of 100 kilogram microsatellites indicates a level of capability that scientists could exploit by replacing the standard camera payload with an instrument they design.

This in turn could open up a worldwide market, selling spacecraft to scientists (who purchase them with grant money) similar to how scientists buy lab equipment.The small size and ‘mass production’ of the spacecraft (relatively speaking, compared to other spacecraft which are typically highly customised) will provide a relatively cheap way for scientists to fly their experiments in orbital space. There is currently no low-cost way to do this, preventing the exploration of new ideas in a relatively inexpensive and informal fashion, which is the backbone of science.

What is CubeSat, and what could it do?

CubeSats were originally developed in the US for educational purposes with dimensions of only 10 x 10 x 10 cm (called a 1U) and a mass of 1.33 kilograms.

The CubeSat sits in a ‘P-POD’ that looks like a rectangular mailbox, and is attached to the launch adapter connecting a much bigger spacecraft to the rocket launching it. The P-POD is spring loaded to push the CubeSat out once in space. A P-POD can hold three of the 1U CubeSats, and then 2U and 3U CubeSats were developed.

Doubling the size of a 3U CubeSat to 6U leads to a marked increase in this technology’s capabilities.

It could take pictures that, while not as sharp as Google satellite pictures, would be as sharp as some other commercially available satellite pictures such as from the RapidEye spacecraft, in the same five colours of light that are useful for agricultural monitoring. Similar to the RapidEye constellation of microsatellites a constellation of 6U CubeSats could allow daily updates (unlike Google satellite pictures). This could be used to help with agricultural monitoring in the developing world and improve food security.

With a different camera the spacecraft could take photos of the Earth at night. Night imaging makes it easier to map the precise extent of human settlement and the data could potentially be sold to government agencies in other countries concerned with mapping human settlement for planning and demographic purposes.

Strategic relationships

Spacecraft are usually so expensive that the technology used in them is quite conservative, to reduce the risk of failure. But a 10-times reduction in cost allows us to risk advanced technologies because failures, if they result, need not be financially crippling, and we gain valuable experience to make these technologies work.

The pay-off is clear: these advanced technologies endow the smaller spacecraft with enough of the capabilities of much larger spacecraft to carry out some of their missions.

The US is interested in this low cost, light weight, high technology approach, as is the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. In particular, its ‘SeeMe’ program is the example that should be followed for an Australian space program, but in a civilian context.

Building up a national capability in small, lightweight (8 to 40 kilograms) advanced technology spacecraft with significant two-way US involvement will allow us to develop a complementary space capability which the US can benefit from.

This is similar to how the US relied on Canada to develop the robotic space arm used on the Space Shuttle. Being a valuable partner in space will improve our strategic relationship with the US.

The rationale for developing this technology would hold true for any country allied with the US, but currently lacking a space program; there is no special reason why it should be Australia that capitalises on this research, other than it is by an Australian.

The economic, strategic and educational rationale for Australia to develop a space program based on the 6U CubeSat does not require that the 6U CubeSats actually be used to observe Australia. The fact that Australia currently receives much satellite data free from other countries does not undermine this argument for an Australian space program. Nor does this argument depend on potential Australian users stating a need for our own satellites.

The radio beeping of Sputnik as it circled the Earth in 1957 galvanized the US into action in space. Hopefully the sound of this opportunity whistling by will stir Australia into the development of a sustainable space program based on the 6U CubeSat.

If Australia fails to grasp this opportunity, others surely will.Source: ABC Science

It's time Australia entered space

https://i2.wp.com/www.davidreneke.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Cubesat.jpg

The rise of small spacecraft could launch Australia’s space program, writes Steven Tsitas. Australia has long delayed the development of a space program, placing it in an almost unique position amongst comparable countries.But now we can develop extremely small yet powerful low-cost spacecraft, it’s time to reconsider whether Australia should have its own space program.

The future of a sustainable Australian space program — one that actually designs and builds its own spacecraft, and perhaps a small rocket to launch them — is small, lightweight spacecraft using advanced technology with significant two-way US involvement.My research indicates a spacecraft the size of a typical shoe-box weighing just 8 kilograms, known as a 6U CubeSat, can perform some of the missions of much larger ‘microsatellites’ weighing around 100 kilograms – or roughly the size of a washing machine.

This 10-times size reduction should make the cost of producing a spacecraft 10-times cheaper — around $1 million versus $10 million.The cost may now be low enough to make it politically possible for Australia to have a sustainable space program based on this spacecraft.Utilising this technology would provide economic opportunities for Australia, improve our strategic relationship with the US and inspire the next generation of students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Economic opportunities

This is perhaps the last chance for Australia to enter this high growth-rate industry in the capacity of designing and building its own spacecraft.

In terms of economic opportunity, the worldwide space industry has annual revenue of $275 billion and a 9 per cent growth rate. But barriers to entry are high, with established players who are decades along the experience curve — except in the last remaining niche of 8 to 40 kilogram spacecraft.Spacecraft cost their weight in gold despite being made from mostly inexpensive raw materials, indicating significant value is added through design and manufacturing.

Australia has the opportunity to earn significant export income through this technology. A high growth rate industry with the opportunity for significant value addition, such as the early days of the personal computing industry or the internet, is considered a good economic opportunity.The fact that the spacecraft can be designed to perform some of the missions of 100 kilogram microsatellites indicates a level of capability that scientists could exploit by replacing the standard camera payload with an instrument they design.

This in turn could open up a worldwide market, selling spacecraft to scientists (who purchase them with grant money) similar to how scientists buy lab equipment.The small size and ‘mass production’ of the spacecraft (relatively speaking, compared to other spacecraft which are typically highly customised) will provide a relatively cheap way for scientists to fly their experiments in orbital space. There is currently no low-cost way to do this, preventing the exploration of new ideas in a relatively inexpensive and informal fashion, which is the backbone of science.

What is CubeSat, and what could it do?

CubeSats were originally developed in the US for educational purposes with dimensions of only 10 x 10 x 10 cm (called a 1U) and a mass of 1.33 kilograms.

The CubeSat sits in a ‘P-POD’ that looks like a rectangular mailbox, and is attached to the launch adapter connecting a much bigger spacecraft to the rocket launching it. The P-POD is spring loaded to push the CubeSat out once in space. A P-POD can hold three of the 1U CubeSats, and then 2U and 3U CubeSats were developed.

Doubling the size of a 3U CubeSat to 6U leads to a marked increase in this technology’s capabilities.

It could take pictures that, while not as sharp as Google satellite pictures, would be as sharp as some other commercially available satellite pictures such as from the RapidEye spacecraft, in the same five colours of light that are useful for agricultural monitoring. Similar to the RapidEye constellation of microsatellites a constellation of 6U CubeSats could allow daily updates (unlike Google satellite pictures). This could be used to help with agricultural monitoring in the developing world and improve food security.

With a different camera the spacecraft could take photos of the Earth at night. Night imaging makes it easier to map the precise extent of human settlement and the data could potentially be sold to government agencies in other countries concerned with mapping human settlement for planning and demographic purposes.

Strategic relationships

Spacecraft are usually so expensive that the technology used in them is quite conservative, to reduce the risk of failure. But a 10-times reduction in cost allows us to risk advanced technologies because failures, if they result, need not be financially crippling, and we gain valuable experience to make these technologies work.

The pay-off is clear: these advanced technologies endow the smaller spacecraft with enough of the capabilities of much larger spacecraft to carry out some of their missions.

The US is interested in this low cost, light weight, high technology approach, as is the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. In particular, its ‘SeeMe’ program is the example that should be followed for an Australian space program, but in a civilian context.

Building up a national capability in small, lightweight (8 to 40 kilograms) advanced technology spacecraft with significant two-way US involvement will allow us to develop a complementary space capability which the US can benefit from.

This is similar to how the US relied on Canada to develop the robotic space arm used on the Space Shuttle. Being a valuable partner in space will improve our strategic relationship with the US.

The rationale for developing this technology would hold true for any country allied with the US, but currently lacking a space program; there is no special reason why it should be Australia that capitalises on this research, other than it is by an Australian.

The economic, strategic and educational rationale for Australia to develop a space program based on the 6U CubeSat does not require that the 6U CubeSats actually be used to observe Australia. The fact that Australia currently receives much satellite data free from other countries does not undermine this argument for an Australian space program. Nor does this argument depend on potential Australian users stating a need for our own satellites.

The radio beeping of Sputnik as it circled the Earth in 1957 galvanized the US into action in space. Hopefully the sound of this opportunity whistling by will stir Australia into the development of a sustainable space program based on the 6U CubeSat.

If Australia fails to grasp this opportunity, others surely will.Source: ABC Science

COM DEV equipment launched on US Air Force AEHF-2 satellite

CAMBRIDGE, ON, May 9, 2012 /CNW/ – COM DEV International Ltd. (CDV.TO), a leading manufacturer of space hardware subsystems, today announced that the AEHF-2 satellite has been successfully launched with COM DEV-built switches, filters and other microwave components on board.  The satellite was launched May 4 th from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard an Atlas V rocket.

AEHF-2 is the second of four planned “Advanced Extremely High Frequency” satellites being built for the U.S. Air Force.  AEHF is the next-generation military strategic and tactical relay system.  It will provide survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. The AEHF constellation will also serve international partners including Canada , the Netherlands and the United Kingdom .

“AEHF is one of the most technologically advanced satellite programs in the world,” said Michael Pley, CEO of COM DEV.  “It’s a great example of how space technology can be used to help ensure greater security for all of us.  We are pleased to be able to contribute, with multiple COM DEV divisions providing equipment for this satellite.”

A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire five-satellite Milstar constellation currently on-orbit.

Lockheed Martin is the AEHF prime contractor, space and ground segments provider as well as system integrator, and Northrop Grumman is the payload provider.  COM DEV has been involved in the program since 2002, and is supplying equipment for all four satellites.  The program has begun advanced procurement of long-lead components for the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites.

About COM DEV

COM DEV International Ltd. (www.comdevintl.com) is a leading global provider of space hardware and services.  With facilities in Canada , the United Kingdom and the United States , COM DEV manufactures advanced subsystems and microsatellites that are sold to major satellite prime contractors, government agencies and satellite operators, for use in communications, space science, remote sensing and defense applications. COM DEV’s majority-owned subsidiary, exactEarth Ltd., provides satellite data services.

This news release may contain certain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from results indicated in any forward-looking statements. The Company cautions that, among other things, in view of the rapid changes in communications markets and technologies, and other risks including the cost and market acceptance of the Company’s new products, the level of individual customer procurements and competitive product offerings and pricing, and general economic circumstances, the Company’s business prospects may be materially different from forward-looking statements made by the Company.

The triangular logo and the word COM DEV are each registered trademarks and the property of COM DEV Ltd. All rights reserved.

AO-51 Current Status

AMSAT-NA VP Operations Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA reports on Friday’s IHU crash on the Amateur Radio satellite AO-51.

Sometime between 1815 and 1945Z November 25, AO-51’s IHU crashed. This happened after a few days of intermittent and unpredictable operation.

Mark N8MH and I reset the satellite and started the repeater back up around ~2030Z, and lowered the output power to about 300 milliwatts. Battery voltage was low, around 4.9v, with cell 1 less than 1 volt. This is very troublesome, as the impending third cell failure will likely end our continuing operations, particularly if it fails shorted as the others have.
We’ve also observed the transmitters cutting off around 4.7 to 4.6 volts prior to the last reset, in eclipse.

We’ll do what we can, but her days are short. Let me ask once again for more reports, especially from the US operators, to thehttp://oscar.dcarr.org/ webpage. The command stations monitor this for changes in the operation of AO-51, and while worldwide participation is good, few US operators post to it.

Please support the several satellite programs worldwide, such as AMSAT-Fox, AMSAT-UK FUNcube and UKCube, AMSAT-ZL Kiwisat, AMSAT-DL P3E, and others.

AO-51
http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/echo/