AMSAT Withdraws GOLF-TEE CubeSat from NASA Educational Launch


At AMSAT’s request, NASA has “de-manifested” the GOLF-TEE CubeSat from the ELaNa-46 mission. ELaNa is NASA’s Educational Launch of Satellites program. ELaNa-46 was expected to launch no earlier than 2022. AMSAT said COVID-related restrictions and supply chain disruptions affecting both AMSAT’s vendors and team have put AMSAT’s ability to meet the mission integration timeline at high risk. Puns aside, GOLF acronym stands for Greater Orbit, Larger Footprint, while “TEE” stands for Technology Exploration Environment.

AMSAT Vice-President Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, said the situation facing AMSAT is similar to what other payloads and space-industry providers are experiencing. The worldwide pandemic and supply chain shortages are threatening everyone’s ability to properly and successfully deliver for launches.

“Out of respect for NASA, the launch provider, and other payloads, it is important to withdraw now, rather than later or, even worst, missing a launch integration deadline, which has possible financial penalty implications. Launch integration is the step of installing the payload on the spacecraft.

Buxton said both GOLF-TEE and GOLF-1 have been selected to participate in NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative program (CSLI), and NASA will continue to look for another launch opportunity for GOLF-TEE.

AMSAT says its GOLF program plays an important role in its return to highly elliptical orbits. “In addition to proving the maneuverability capabilities required by current and proposed orbital debris regulations, the GOLF program will work through a series of increasingly capable spacecraft to develop skills and learn systems for which we do not yet have the necessary low-risk experience,” AMSAT said. “Among these are active attitude control, deployable/steerable solar panels, radiation tolerance for commercial off the shelf (COTS) components in higher orbits, and propulsion.”

The GOLF-TEE mission goal to test two critical systems needed for higher orbits. The first is an Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) that will allow active pointing of high gain satellite antennas, provide accurate attitude adjustments in future missions with maneuverability systems, and allow pointing the fixed solar panel array for best solar power in any given orbit type,” AMSAT explained. “The second is the Radiation-Tolerant Integrated Housekeeping Unit (RTIHU), which will allow AMSAT to gain initial orbit and space radiation exposure for radiation event-induced fault tolerant systems designed using COTS components.”

GOLF-TEE will carry a modified Ettus E310 commercial software-defined radio (SDR) as an experimental package, to test the high speed data downlink at 10 GHz and a parrot V/x mode linear transponder to provide users with an opportunity to experiment with the 10 GHz microwave downlink. GOLF-TEE will also carry a legacy V/u linear transponder, AMSAT said.

AMSAT says GOLF-1 will build on technology and lessons learned from the GOLF-TEE mission, but it will be a return to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) based educational missions, including hosted student radiation and imaging experiments in collaboration with AMSAT’s educational partners.

GOLF-1 will require a more comprehensive de-orbiting plan and hardware, in in compliance with NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris in order to be manifested on an ELaNa launch to the high altitude AMSAT is seeking.

AMSAT invites donations to its GOLF program. — AMSAT President Robert Bankston, KE4AL, via AMSAT News Service



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