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China Students’ “Zhou Enlai” CubeSat Launches with Ham Radio Payload On Board


Launched on January 19, China’s “Zhou Enlai” CubeSat is that country’s first to involve primary and middle school students. Named in honor of the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou Enlai, the CubeSat was developed in Huai’an Youth Comprehensive Development Base in Jiangsu Province. Zhou Enlai was born in Huai’an. The 2-kg, 2U CubeSat carries an Amateur Radio FM transponder and has SSTV capability, in addition to a high-definition optical camera. An SSTV beacon will post date, time, temperature, and location information on an SSTV frame. The launch was the 100th orbital launch attempt from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

“A scientific satellite like this is like a teacher in space, carrying cameras or spectroscopes to study the upper atmosphere or to shoot space pictures of the stars. Students can grasp the mystery of the universe through the messages transmitted by the teacher,” said Zhang Xiang, chief designer of the satellite and a professor with Nanjing University of Science and Engineering.

The Amateur Radio transponder has a downlink at 436.950 MHz, and an uplink at 145.930 MHz. Telemetry will be 9.6 k BPSK on 437.350 MHz.

The students who participated in the project joined the development and ground-based simulation performance of the satellite in their spare time, and learned to assemble and practice voice data transfer and telecommunication applications. The project was approved in 2016. The administration office of Huai’an Youth Comprehensive Development Base is the main organizer of the project.

A delegation from the satellite development student team in Huai’an was at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for the launch.

On the same launch vehicle were the Xiaoxiang-2 (TY-2) and Yizhuang QuanTuTong-1 (QTT 1/TY-6) CubeSats, developed by TianYi Research Institute in Changsha, Hunan Province. These 6U CubeSats will carry out Amateur Radio HF/VHF/UHF re-transmitting experiments in narrowband modes. TY-2 carries four experiments, testing optical fiber sensing technology, space radio software, and image stabilization; TY-6 carries navigation and communication payloads (including AIS). TY2 and TY6 both operate in the 435, 2400, 5650 and 5830-MHz Amateur Satellite bands.

The TY-2 downlink is 435.350 MHz, and the TY-6 downlink is 436.100 MHz. They are part of a constellation of CubeSats, TY-2 through TY-6, which will also carry out inter-satellite communication experiments that include Amateur Radio, Li-Fi high-speed LED digital downlink, and CW lamp signal communication experiments. Downlinks are on 70 centimeters using 9.6 kbps GMSK and on 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz using 5 Mbps OFDM.

The IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination page has details on frequencies. — Thanks to AMSAT-UK



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