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The Space Gazette

Space for Everyone      -       September 30, 2001     -         Vol. 1 No.7

Amateur Satellite Building * Amateur Space Radio

AMSAT AO-40 Logo

A0-40 Progress
GPS test succeeds

The amateur satellite A0-40 continues to progress towards full operational status after its nearly fatal breakdown last December.

Known as Phase-3D prior to launch, the craft is the most sophisticated amateur satellite ever launched.

Led by the German AMSAT-DL organization, an international team contributed countless hours to the project and AMSAT and amateur radio organizations provided over $1 million in contributions.

The satellite holds a wide range of instruments including high power transmitters and a camera.

A 400 Newton rocket engine was intended to place the craft into a highly ellipitcal orbit that would provide long periods of visibility to North America & Europe.

Unfortunately, during an engine firing last fall, contact was lost with the satellite and it was feared lost. However, on Christmas day, the satellite responded to ground control and recovery of its systems has continued since.

Use of a secondary arcjet thruster has placed the craft into an orbit that will be stable for decades.

This summer the first images from the camera were obtained.

Recently, a successful test took place with two GPS receivers on board. The NASA sponsored project sought to determine whether accurate positioning could be attained from a satellite while outside the ring of GPS satellites.

"GPS experiment on AO-40 [an amateur satellite launched last year] has undergone successful testing..." - Amsat Bulletin - Sept.28.01

Amateur Satellite Building * Amateur Space Radio

Starshine 3 Brightens the Sky
Two university student satellites also orbited

Starshine 3 Assembly
Starshine 3 during assembly at the Naval Research Lab. Image by Michael A.Savell and Gayle R. Fullerton

The sky now holds a bright, new shiny ball called Starshine 3. The Starshine and three other microsatellites were placed into their orbits on September 29, 2001 by a Lockheed Martin Athena rocket launched from Kodiak Island in Alaska.

Last Frontier State Launches First Orbital Mission - Space.com - Sept.30.01

Starshine 3 is covered with 1500 small mirrors that were polished by thousands of grade school and high school students from around the world. Starshine 1 was a similar but smaller (0.5m) ball that was launched from the space shuttle Discovery in June 1999.

The mirrors on the balls make the craft visible and the students can track the satellite when it passes. The orbits are measured from these observations. Over time these measurements indicate the orbital decay rate, which in turn can be correlated to the solar activity that heats the atmosphere. (Starshine 1 burned up in the atmosphere in Feb.2000.)

Unlike Starshine 1, Starshine 3 also carries an amateur radio transmitter powered by solar cells. Students will learn how to receive telemetry from the satellite and use the data to measure the spin rate of the sphere and how it is effected by eddy currents generated by the interaction with the earths magnetic field.

Starshine 2 will actually go into orbit later in in November 2001 from the shuttle Endeavor. This sphere is of similar size to Starshine 1 but also has a simple nitrogen thruster to spin up the satellite, which will "enhance the rate at which sunlight will flash from its mirror".

Two other microsatellites put into orbit also carry amateur radio transceivers. PCSat was built by students at the Naval Academy and Sapphire was constructed by students at Stanford University.

(The fourth payload, Picosat, was built by Surrey Satellite Technology in Britain and will test several technologies for the Dept. of Defense.)

PCsat's primary mission (besides simply giving the students plenty of hands on experience in satellite building) is to "provide mobile and Handheld Satellite digital communications for amateur satellite operators worldwide." It also has Emergency Status and Reporting (SAR) Capability that allows emergency messages from remote locations to be saved and later downloaded when in range of a receiver.

Sapphire will test a micromachined infrared sensors and other technologies for nanosats.

As of Sept.30, all three of the student satellites had successfully transmitted telemetry and seemed to be operating properly.
[Forty Thousand Children Help Build Space "Disco Ball" - National Geographic News - Oct.4.01, A Disco Ball in Space - Science@NASA - Oct.9.01 ]

 

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Contests

URGENT!
Space Telescope
Desperately Needs
New Name

The Space InfraRed Telescope is the last element in the NASA series of Great Observatories. The unmanned station will explore the cosmos via the window of the infrared spectrum.

So far, the project has proceeded under the less than inspiring acronym of SIRTF.

SIRTF NAME Contest

So the project is sponsoring a contest for a new, user-friendly name. Open to everyone, entry deadline is December 20, 2001.

The winner will be flown to Cape Kennedy to see the launch of the observatory in July 2002.

NASA Wants You to Name th SIRTF Observatory! - Space.com - Sept.6.01

Space History

Lost Apollo Audio Tape Discovered

Space historians find a lost tape recording of the voices of Houston ground controllers and the Apollo 11 astronauts during the dramatic minutes leading up to the landing.

Kipp Teague, an amateur space historian who maintains the Apollo Archive site, instigated the search for the tape.

Lost moonlanding tape found - BBC - Sept.19.01

* Real-audio streamed audio of the tape

 
 
 
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