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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS001 (2011)

ARLS001 NASA Seeks Amateur Radio Operators' Aid to Listen for
Nanosatellite's Beacon Signal

QST de W1AW  
Space Bulletin 001  ARLS001
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington, CT  January 20, 2011
To all radio amateurs

ARLS001 NASA Seeks Amateur Radio Operators' Aid to Listen for
Nanosatellite's Beacon Signal

On Wednesday, January 19 at 1630 UTC, engineers at Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama confirmed that the NanoSail-D
nanosatellite ejected from Fast Affordable Scientific and Technology
Satellite (FASTSAT). According to NASA, the ejection event occurred
spontaneously and when engineers at Marshall identified and analyzed
onboard FASTSAT telemetry; the ejection of NanoSail-D also has been
confirmed by ground-based satellite tracking assets.

NASA is asking radio amateurs to listen on 437.270 MHz for the
signal and verify NanoSail-D is operating. Hams should send
information to the NanoSail-D dashboard via the web at, .

NASA said that the NanoSail-D science team is hopeful the
nanosatellite is healthy and can complete its solar sail mission.
"This is great news for our team," said Dean Alhorn, NanoSail-D
principal investigator and aerospace engineer at the Marshall
Center. "We're anxious to hear the beacon which tells us that
NanoSail-D is healthy and operating as planned. The science team is
hopeful to see that NanoSail-D is operational and will be able to
unfurl its solar sail." As of Thursday, January 20, the NanoSail-D
dashboard is reporting that beacon data has been received, but NASA
still wants amateurs to track and report the signals.

On December 6, 2010, NASA triggered the planned ejection of
NanoSail-D from FASTSAT. At that time, the team confirmed that the
door successfully opened and data indicated a successful ejection.
Upon further analysis, however, the team found no evidence of
NanoSail-D in low-Earth orbit (LEO), leading them to believe
NanoSail-D remained inside FASTSAT. The FASTSAT mission has
continued to operate as planned with the five other scientific
experiments operating nominally.

"We knew that the door opened and it was possible that NanoSail-D
could eject on its own," said FASTSAT Project Manager Mark
Boudreaux. What a pleasant surprise we had Wednesday morning when
our flight operations team confirmed that NanoSail-D is now a free

If the deployment is successful, NASA said that NanoSail-D will stay
in LEO between 70 and 120 days, depending on atmospheric conditions.
NanoSail-D is designed to demonstrate deployment of a compact solar
sail boom system that could lead to further development of this
alternative solar sail propulsion technology and FASTSAT's ability
to eject a nanosatellite from a micro-satellite -- while avoiding
re-contact with the FASTSAT satellite bus.


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