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Student-Built STMSat-1 Not Yet Ready to Start Transmitting SSTV Images

05/18/2016

[UPDATED 2016-05-19 @ 1532 UTC] The STMSat-1 CubeSat built by students at St Thomas More (STM) Cathedral School in Arlington, Virginia, silent since it was deployed from the International Space Station, will begin transmitting when its orbit is stable, the transmitter has power, and its antennas are deployed, according to a May 18 tweet. Satellite enthusiasts around the globe have been listening as the little spacecraft’s orbit favors their locations. An earlier tweet from the school indicated that students had been checking the school’s Mission Operations Center as they awaited tracking information.

"STMSat-1 is set to turn itself on once it is fully charged and the antennae deploy," Emily Stocker at St Thomas More told ARRL. "That can happen as early as 45 minutes after deployment, but as we have learned from our space exploration, these sorts of things have their own timeline.  Stay updated by following our Twitter handle @STMSat11."

Youngsters at the elementary school broke into a frenzy of celebration on May 16, as the CubeSat finally was deployed from the International Space Station at 1440 UTC. It’s equipped with a slow-scan TV (SSTV) payload that will transmit on 437.800 MHz FM. The satellite is the first to be designed and built by grade schoolers, who were supported by NASA technical advisors and by local radio amateurs. STMSat-1 was transported to the ISS in December by an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft.

The kit-built satellite initially had been set for release in mid-February. That deployment was postponed until early March, however, before being put on hold again. The satellite project is part of the school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education initiatives.

NASA’s Technology Demonstration Office provided the school with a mobile “clean room” to ensure that the construction phase met with strict guidelines and standards for launch and deployment from the ISS. The space agency also provided the school with a ground station antenna to receive the SSTV images and temperature readings, once the satellite comes to life.

Also deployed from the ISS on May 16 were other school-built satellites carrying payloads operating on Amateur Radio frequencies. These included MinXSS-1 (437.345 MHz); CADRE (437.485 MHz and 3.404 GHz), and NODES (437.100 MHz 1200 bps AX.25 and 2401.2-2431.2 MHz 115.2 kbps spread-spectrum FSK). As of May 18, no signals had been reported from the CADRE spacecraft, but MinXSS-1 and NODES both have been heard.



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