The AARL, the National Association For Amateur Radio®, has reported that radio amateurs in the US, Russia, Germany, and the Netherlands topped the field in a European Space Agency (ESA) Education Office competition to be the first to hear signals from three new, student-built CubeSats.
All of the satellites were launched from Guiana on April 25 as part of ESA’s “Fly Your Satellite!” program, and ESA challenged the Amateur Radio community, offering prizes to the first three radio amateurs to submit a recorded signal from OUFTI-1 from France, e-st@r-II from Italy, and AAUSAT4 from Denmark.
Contact with OUFTI-1 came at 0054 UTC on April 26, within 1 hour of its separation from the launcher. Dmitry Pashkov, R4UAB, heard OUFTI-1’s signal using receiving stations in Kemerovo and Ruzaevka, Russia. In 2013, Pashkov had picked up Estonia’s ESTCube-1 satellite before anyone else and he repeated the feat the following year for the Lithuania’s LituanicaSAT-1.
A little more than an hour after the first signal from OUFTI-1 was recorded, the next CubeSat checked in. AAUSAT-4 was heard over California by Justin Foley, KI6EBT, of California Polytechnic State University. He had a personal interest in the mission, as some of his colleagues had developed the P-POD deployer used to eject the CubeSats into orbit. He heard the signal on the CubeSat’s second pass over his location at 0202 UTC.
“It was extremely exciting to see signals from the newly launched satellite, and witness the beginning of a space mission,” Foley said.
Hearing — and confirming — a signal from e-st@r-II turned out to be more of a challenge. At 0541 UTC, Mike Rupprecht, DK3WN, in Germany spotted a weak signal on his screen. “It is always a good feeling to hear the signals of new satellites,” he said, noting that a satellite’s own ground station is often not the first to receive a signal. “So the CubeSat teams are very grateful if they get help from the Amateur Radio community,” he added.
However, it was not certain that the signal Rupprecht saw was from e-st@r-II. Jan van Gils, PE0SAT, in the Netherlands had to wait until May 2 at 1638 UTC to receive a signal from e-st@r-II that was strong enough to be decoded. Just why e-st@r-II’s signal was so weak is still under investigation. Rupprecht and van Gils both got credit for being first to record and submit a signal from e-st@r-II and receive one of the ESA prize packages — a Fly Your Satellite! Poster, a goodie bag, and a scale 1:1 3D-printed model of a CubeSat.
ESA made special mention of 12-year-old space enthusiast Matteo Micheletti in Belgium, who caught the OUFTI-1 signal with a portable log periodic antenna and receiver. His success occurred on May 1 between 1734 and1739 UTC.
“Competitions like this help to demonstrate that space is not that far away,” said Fly Your Satellite! Program Manager Piero Galeone. “The launch and the start of operations of these three student-built CubeSats were a terrific success, and I’m delighted that hundreds of people from around the world joined us in the effort to catch their first signals.”
OUFTI-1 (Orbital Utility For Telecommunication Innovations) was constructed by students at the University of Liege in Belgium (ULg) and carries the first D-STAR payload in space; OUFTI-1 transmits on 145.950 MHz (FSK AX.25 and D-STAR down, with an uplink at 435.045 MHz. OUFTI-1 carries a CW beacon transmitting on 145.980 MHz. e-st@r-II, from the University of Turin, transmits CW and 1.2 k AFSK on 437.485 MHz. AAUSAT4 from the University of Aalborg, Denmark, will operate an automated ocean vessel identification system. The CubeSat transmits on 437.425 MHz.
A separate acknowledgement from the ESA also goes to the three ESTEC telecommunication specialists Alberto Busso, Paolo Concari, and Marco Mascarello, who, during their spare time, worked enthusiastically to support the university student teams in their efforts to catch and decode the early CubeSat transmissions.
To assist in acquiring the knowledge and expertise to enter and/or continue the acquisition of technology and product to become a successful smallsat actor, Satnews Publishers is delighted to announce that the SmallSat Symposium workshops will be held on February 6 and the conference will be conducted from February 7 to February 8, 2017, at the Computer History Museum, which is located at 1401 North Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View, California.
A veritable "Who's Who" of subject-matter experts have already committed to presentations during this impact-filled symposium:
Accepted Speakers To Date
Chad Anderson, Managing Director
Space Angels Network
Jason Andrews, CEO
David A. Anhalt, Vice President and General Manager
Chris Baugh, President
NSR - Northern Sky Research
Peter Beck, CEO & CTO
Dr. Sami BenAmor, Director of Marketing
Thales Alenia Space
John Booher, Partner
Dr. Sean Casey, Managing Director
Silicon Valley Space Center
Carissa Christensen, Managing Partner
The Tauri Group
Craig Clark, Founder
Clyde Space Ltd.
Mike Collett, Founder and Managing Partner
James Crawford, Founder and CEO
Randy Culver, CEO
Stuart Daughtridge, Senior VP Advanced Technology
Dr. Lars Dyrud, CEO
Dr. Shahin Farshchi, Partner
Dr. Jenny Gautier, Director of Commercial Programs
The Aerospace Corporation
Dr. Steve Goldberg, CEO & Co-Founder
David Hartshorn, Secretary General
GVF - Global VSAT Forum
Susan J. Irwin, President
Irwin Communications, Inc.
John P. Janka, Partner
Latham & Watkins LLP
Adam Keith, Managing Director
Debra Facktor Lepore, VP and GM of Strategic Operations
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp
Tony Lin, Counsel, Washington, DC
Dr. Clare Martin, Vice President of Programs
Surrey Satellite Technology US
Clayton Mowry, President
Carlos Niederstrasser, Business Development & Special Initiatives
Sunil Nagaraj, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Bessemer Venture Partners
Dara A. Panahy, Partner
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
Will Pomerantz, Vice President for Special Projects
Dr. Alex Saltman, Senior Vice President
Randy S. Segal, Partner, Co-Lead Satellite Practice
David Strobel, CEO and Program Manager (PM)
Chris Stott, Chairman & CEO (PM)
Tom Stroup, President
SIA - Satellite Industry Association
Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Founder and Executive Chairman
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
Stig-Are Thrana, U.S. Sales Director and Head of Kongsberg Silicon Valley Office
Kongsberg Satellite Services
Dr. Joe Thurgood, Vice President Corporate Development and Marketing
Dr. Marco Villa, President & COO
Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems
Tony Wilkey, Senior Vice President
Bruce Yost, Project Manager
NASA Ames Research Center
Louis Zacharilla, Director of Development
Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI)
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