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Three BIRDS Constellation CubeSats Delivered to ISS for Orbital Deployment


A Cygnus resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 11 also delivered three CubeSats of the BIRDS-3 constellation and three other CubeSats. The BIRDS-3 constellation is a project of students at the Kyushu Institute of Technology. The additional CubeSats include Swiatowid, KrakSat, and EntrySat.

All BIRDS-3 CubeSats are of the same design and have been coordinated to operate on a common downlink frequency of 435.375 MHz. Each will transmit a CW beacon and 9.6 k GMSK telemetry. The CubeSat deployer in the ISS Kibo module will deploy the BIRDS-3 CubeSats at a later date.

The BIRDS-3 constellation includes CubeSats from three countries: They are Nepal’s first satellite, NepaliSat-1; Uguisu from Japan, and Sri Lanka’s first satellite, Raavana-1. The primary mission of the BIRDS constellation is to provide ciphered short messages via its 435.375 MHz beacon, giving the opportunity for the Amateur Radio community to decipher the messages using a publicly available key on the BIRDS-3 website. Operators able to successfully decipher the message will be recognized on the BIRDS-3 website and receive a BIRDS-3 QSL card.

In addition to their primary mission, BIRDS-3 CubeSats will conduct remote data collection based on low-powered LoRa modulation to demonstrate remote data collection and processing aboard a CubeSat to, for example, monitor water levels in flood-prone areas. The LoRa remote station will operate at 433 MHz for Sri Lanka and Nepal and at 920 MHz for Japan. Data collected will be posted on the BIRDS-3 website. Radio amateurs contributing to receiving the processed data will receive a QSL card showing the nature of data collected.

BIRDS-3 will also carry an imaging mission for public outreach and awareness and Earth magnetic field measurement; a mission to find commercial, off-the-shelf alternatives to expensive space adhesives, and active attitude stabilization as a precursor to active aiming control for future CubeSat missions.

Other CubeSats carried aloft on the same launch include: Swiatowid, which will carry a V/U transponder, with an FM voice uplink at 436.000 MHz and downlink at 145.850. Telemetry will be transmitted on 435.500 MHz and at 2435.000 MHz; KrakSat, which will transmit 9.6 k and 1.2 k telemetry at 435.500 MHz, and EntrySat, a 3U CubeSat that will measure thermosphere parameters during its orbital phase, and satellite re-entry during the re-entry phase. It will carry an Amateur Radio FM relay with a downlink of 436.950 (uplink not available) and 9.6 k packet. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service