Japanese Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio Payloads are Launched into Deep Space


Japan has successfully launched its Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample-return mission into deep space, and with it, two satellites carrying Amateur Radio payloads. A Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) rocket lifted off on schedule early on December 3 (UTC), carrying the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft on the first leg of its journey to Asteroid 1999 JU3. Along for the ride into deep space are two Amateur Radio satellites, Shin’en 2 (Abyss 2) and ARTSAT2: DESPATCH. The launch had been postponed twice owing to unfavorable weather conditions. Shin’en 2 will identify as JG6YIG, while ARTSAT2:DESPATCH will use the call sign JQ1ZNN.

Shin’en2 carries a 0.1 W CW beacon on 437.505 MHz and telemetry on 437.385 MHz (0.8 W) using a mode similar to WSJT. It also will carry a F1D digital store-and-forward transponder with an uplink of 145.942 MHz and a downlink at 435.270 MHz (0.4 W), but not the Amateur Radio Mode J linear transponder announced earlier. The data format is posted on the Kagoshima University website.

A linear transponder had been part of the initial design, but, according to Hideo Kambayashi, JH3XCU, Japanese regulations would not allow it, and it would have taken too long to negotiate a regulatory variance. The digital transponder will offer an opportunity for earthbound radio amateurs to test the limits of their communication capabilities, however. The project also is hoping to gather listener reports.

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH carries a 7 W CW transmitter on 437.325 MHz and will have onboard the first sculpture ever to be carried into deep space. The ARTSAT2: DESPATCH deep-space mission has announced that it is seeking “exceptionally skilled ham operators” as part of its “cooperative diversity communication” experiment. This effort will attempt to intercept signals from the spacecraft not only at the ground station in Tokyo, but at Amateur Radio stations around the world, “in order to reconstruct the original data from the spacecraft.”

“Reception of such weak signals to reconstruct data from the spacecraft will require the expertise of exceptionally skilled ham operators,” the satellite’s developers explained on the ARTSAT website.

The two spacecraft will have an elliptical orbit around the Sun and travel to a deep space orbit between Venus and Mars. With an orbital inclination of nearly zero, the spacecraft should stay in Earth’s equatorial plane. The distance from the Sun will be between approximately 6.5 million and 12 million miles.

SpinSat Now in Orbit

Meanwhile, the US Naval Research Laboratory SpinSat satellite was successfully deployed from the International Space Station on November 28 using the Cyclops deployment system. SpinSat was carried to the ISS on September 21 via the SpaceX Falcon 9 resupply vehicle. For the next few days, SpinSat’s orbit will approximate that of the ISS. The ISS real-time tracker on the ISS Fan Club website can show when the spacecraft are within range.

The 125-pound SpinSat is a 22- inch diameter sphere carries a 2 W 9600 bps AX.25 packet radio store-and-forward system on 437.230 MHz. The satellite’s primary mission is to demonstrate a new micro-thruster technology, from which SpinSat derives its name; its 12 electronically controlled solid-propellant thrusters will be fired in pairs to spin the spacecraft.

While in space, SpinSat will be used in a test to calibrate the Space Surveillance Network. Lasers will be aimed at the spacecraft from Earth, and the reflected light measured to determine the where the satellite is passing overhead. SpinSat also will model the density of the atmosphere.

Equipped only with primary batteries and just 4.8 grams of fuel, the satellite’s working phase is expected to last up to 6 months. — Thanks to AMSAT, AMSAT-UK, Southgate Amateur Radio News