[UPDATED: 2018-12-04 @ 1320 UTC] SpaceX has announced that the SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission carrying AMSAT’s Fox-1Cliff CubeSat has been deployed into orbit. A SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle carried Fox-1Cliff and several other satellites into space on December 3 at approximately 1334 UTC from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, following a 1-day launch delay. (See the launch on YouTube.) According to AMSAT, at approximately 0030 UTC on December 4, several stations in Brazil — including PS8MT, PT9BM, and PT2AP — reported hearing the voice beacon “Fox-1Cliff Safe Mode,” confirming that the satellite was alive.
“Just before 0040 UTC, AMSAT Fox-1 Team Member Burns Fisher, WB1FJ, was the first to submit and upload telemetry to the AMSAT servers,” AMSAT reportedon its website. “Initial telemetry values show the satellite to be in good health. Thanks to the 29 stations that contributed telemetry during Fox-1Cliff’s initial orbits.”
The Fox-1Cliff downlink for FM voice and data-under-voice (DUV) is 145.920 MHz. Uplinks are 435.300 and 1267.300 MHz.
In addition to Fox-1Cliff, the SSO-A mission carried several other Amateur Radio satellites, including FUNcube on ESEO, JY1-SAT, K2SAT, and ExseedSat. The reusable Falcon 9 vehicle launched 64 payloads in all.
Fox-1Cliff carries the Fox-1 U/v FM repeater, AMSAT’s L-Band Downshifter, the flight spare of the AO-85 Vanderbilt University Low Energy Proton (LEP) radiation experiment, and the standard Fox-1 Penn State University-Erie MEMS gyroscope experiment. Virginia Tech provided a video graphics array camera that’s similar to the one on AO-92 but which will provide images at a higher 640 × 480 resolution.
Fox-1Cliff is named in honor of long-time AMSAT member, contributor, and benefactor Cliff Buttschardt, K7RR (SK), who died in 2006. His contributions to AMSAT and other Amateur Satellite programs — including his service as an adviser during the initial development of the CubeSat specification at California Polytechnic State University — earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award from Project OSCAR in 2006.
AMSAT is asking Amateur Radio satellite enthusiasts to listen for Fox-1Cliff’s telemetry for the initial 72 – 96 hours as on-orbit checkout gets under way.
“If you are capturing telemetry with FoxTelem, please be sure that “Upload to Server” is checked in your settings and your Ground Station Params are filled in as well,” AMSAT said in advance of the launch. In the initial Safe Mode or Beacon Mode after startup, the transmitter is limited to 10 seconds on time followed by a 2-minute off cycle. “You will hear Veronica announcing ‘Fox-1Cliff Safe Mode,’ while in Beacon Mode,” AMSAT said, noting that the on-orbit check-out procedure will be similar to Fox-1D and could be completed in as few as 7 days.
“It is very important, not to mention just plain good Amateur operating practice, to refrain from using the transponder uplink, so we can do the on orbit tests, including when we turn on transponder mode for testing,” AMSAT said. “AMSAT will make it broadly known when the tests are complete and the transponder is available for all to use.” — Thanks to SpaceX and AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY