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Fox-1A Ready for Launch, Fox-1D to Carry Radiation-Mapping Experiment


Following successful vibration and thermal/vacuum testing, AMSAT-NA's Fox-1A CubeSat now sits in a clean environment awaiting launch. AMSAT Vice-President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, said that NASA, the launch provider, now is reviewing several required reports. Fox-1A completed its Mission Readiness Review at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, on February 24 before a review board of Cal Poly and NASA representatives, he said, adding that Fox-1A delivery and integration has been set for March 25.

“From there, we won’t see her again, but certainly look forward to hearing from her again,” he said.

Fox-1A will include a Mode B (U/V) FM transponder and capabilities similar to the AO-51 satellite, which went dark in late 2011. The first phase of the Fox series 1-Unit CubeSats will allow simple ground stations using hand-held transceivers and simple dual-band antennas to make contacts. The Fox-1 CubeSats also will be able to transmit continuous telemetry during normal transponder operation.

Fox-1A is scheduled to launch in late August from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, as part of the NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program, which offers free launches to educational entities and encourages science missions. Fox-1A will host a Penn State student experiment with micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS)

Meanwhile, AMSAT and University of Iowa have agreed to include the University’s High Energy Radiation CubeSat Instrument (HERC) radiation-mapping experiment on the Fox-1D CubeSat. Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C, but AMSAT has said that if the CubeSat is not needed for that purpose, it would be ready for launch on any available slot.

“HERCI is intended to provide a mapping of radiation in a low-Earth orbit,” said Don Kirchner, KD0L, a University of Iowa research engineer. “This is of scientific interest for planning CubeSat test flights for low-energy X-ray detectors.”

As Kirchner explained, the instrument consists of a digital processing unit (DPU) that was derived from processors currently in orbit around Saturn on the Cassini spacecraft and on the way to Jupiter on the Juno spacecraft. “The DPU was shrunk to a CubeSat form factor with funding from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium,” he said.

The University of Iowa’s history in spaceflight research dates back to the earliest satellites. As Kirchner put it, “HERCI can be considered a direct descendent of the first University of Iowa spaceflight instrument flown on Explorer I in 1958.” He said the instrument is a senior design project by four UI electrical engineering students working under the supervision of the space physics engineering staff.

Buxton said the partnership is a win-win arrangement. “This partnership with the University of Iowa illustrates our strategy of leveraging the new CubeSat design to assist universities that need a way to fly scientific payloads while providing a viable ongoing platform for Amateur Radio,” he said. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service




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