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First High School Satellite Among November Ham Satellite Bonanza


The first high school satellite, TJ3Sat, which launched this week aboard a Minotaur I rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, was among several satellites carrying Amateur Radio payloads — two with ham radio transponders — scheduled to be put into orbit during November. In addition to the Minotaur I launch, other satellites are set to go into space early November 21 (UTC) aboard a Dnepr rocket from Russia, while still others were scheduled to be deployed from the International Space Station. The Minotaur I carried 29 satellites in all.

The TJ3Sat CubeSat is a joint project between the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, and industry partners to design and build a CubeSat to inspire interest in aerospace technology as part of NASA's Educational Launch of NanoSatellites (ELaNa) program. The school says the satellite’s main mission is “to provide educational resources to other K-12 education institutions to foster interest in aerospace through the successful design and flight of a CubeSat.”

Perhaps more to the point for high schoolers, the satellite’s Text Speak module will convert text messages into analog voice signals. “Students and other users from around the world can submit text strings to be uploaded to the TJ3Sat website. Approved text strings will be transmitted to the satellite and the resulting voice interpretation will be relayed back to Earth over an Amateur Radio frequency,” the TJ3Sat website explains. The small satellite also will transmit telemetry. Details are on the TJ3Sat website. The school says the November 20 (UTC) launch culminated 7 years of work by more than four dozen students. According to a Washington Post article, the satellite will broadcast its first message to TJ alumni worldwide: “Go Colonials!”

Also on the Minotaur I ride was KySat-2, a 1U CubeSat that’s also part of NASA’s ELaNA program (KySat-1 was lost during a launch vehicle failure). It is a project of Morehead State University (communications, power systems), Kentucky Space LLC (mission management) and the University of Kentucky (onboard computer, imaging payload).

With the call sign KK4AJJ, the satellite will transmit with a 1 W downlink at 437.405 MHz using AX.25 protocol to portable ground stations developed by Morehead State for outreach to grades K-12. In addition to basic housekeeping data, telemetry will be tied in with lesson plans under development. KySat-2 also will include an imaging payload. All student operators and engineering team members were required to Amateur Radio licenses as part of the project.

The JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer aboard the ISS was scheduled to launch three 1U and one 3U CubeSats carrying Amateur Radio payloads in the November 19-20 time frame. These include Pico Dragon, developed by the Việt Nam National Satellite Center (VNSC), University of Tokyo and IHI aerospace; ArduSat-1, and ArduSat-2, deployed November 19, and TechEdSat-3p, developed by interns at the NASA Ames Research Center, set for deployment November 20. All carry beacons and downlinks (no transponders) in the 437 MHz range. TechEdSat-3, which is testing an Iridium satphone modem, will automatically de-orbit after 10 days.

Earlier this week Expedition 38 Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins, KF5LJG, installed the satellite deployer on the ISS’s multi-purpose experiment platform while working in the Kibo module of the International Space Station. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service, AMSAT-UK, and NASA





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