[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.”
ARRL wants the FCC to facilitate bona fide Amateur Satellite experimentation by educational institutions under Part 97 Amateur Service rules, while precluding the exploitation of amateur spectrum by commercial, small-satellite users authorized under Part 5 Experimental rules. In comments filed on July 9 in an FCC proceeding to streamline licensing procedures for small satellites, ARRL suggested that the FCC adopt a “a bright line test” to define and distinguish satellites that should be permitted to operate under Amateur-Satellite rules, as opposed to non-amateur satellites that could be authorized under Part 5 Experimental rules.
“Specifically, it is possible to clarify which types of satellite operations are properly considered amateur experiments conducted pursuant to a Part 97 Amateur Radio license, and [those] which should be considered experimental, non-amateur facilities, properly authorized by a Part 5 authorization.”
China’s twin-launch Chang’e 4 mission to the far side of the moon will place a pair of microsatellites in lunar orbit “to test low-frequency radio astronomy and space-based interferometry.” The two satellites, DSLWP-A1 and DSLWP-A2 (DSLWP = Discovering the Sky at Longest Wavelengths Pathfinder) are expected to launch in June. They will carry Amateur Radio and educational payloads, but not a transponder.
Equipped with low-frequency antennas and receivers, the astronomy objectives of the two spacecraft will be to observe the sky at the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum — 1 MHz to 30 MHz — with the aim of learning about energetic phenomena from celestial sources. They will use the moon to shield them from radio emissions from Earth.
The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)on April 17, seeking comment on proposals to streamline its rules regarding the deployment of “small satellites.” This would include small spacecraft put into orbit for Amateur Radio purposes, as well as small satellites launched by non-Amateur Radio entities, such as universities, but using Amateur Radio spectrum. The NPRM primarily addresses satellites launched by the commercial sector, however.
The CubeSat PicSat carrying an amateur radio FM transponder was launched on the same PSLV-C40 flight from India that delivered AO-92 to orbit.
PicSat is a nano-satellite aimed at observing the transit of the young exoplanet Beta Pictoris b in front of its bright and equally young star Beta Pictoris, and at demonstrating an innovative technological concept to use optical fibres for astronomical observations from Space.
The first Amateur Radio satellite to employ the D-Star digital voice and data format — D-Star One — was among about 20 secondary payloads lost on November 28 after an otherwise nominal launch of a three-stage Soyuz 2.1 booster from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far reaches of eastern Russia. The mission carried the Russian Meteor M2-1 satellite — the primary payload — as well as a Canadian Telestar experimental satellite, and 17 other secondary payloads, including D-Star One. According to reports, a fault occurred in the sophisticated and autonomous Fregat upper stage, which, after separating from the launch vehicle, inserts multiple spacecraft into their respective orbits. A so-called “space tug,” Fregat has been in service for nearly 2 decades and has suffered three previous failures. Russian space agency Roscosmos is investigating the Fregat failure.
The Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe (e-POP) onboard the Canadian CAScade Smallsat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE) satellite will again support Amateur Radio citizen science by listening for signals during ARRL Field Day, June 24-25. The HamSCI citizen science initiative says that, from a radio science perspective, Field Day is an ideal time for e-POP to study the structure of Earth’s ionosphere using participants’ transmissions. HamSCI was started by ham-scientists who study upper atmospheric and space physics.
At the May 2017 CARP meeting Jason Boyer N6EY gave a great presentation on Space Communications. In the presentation he discussed types of amateur radio satellites and communications methods to utilize them.