Winter 2006 Issue

SATELLITES

An Update of the World of Satellites

By Keith Pugh, W5IU

Since the last column, SSETI has been launched along with its fleet of CubeSats; the AMSAT Board of Directors met in Pittsburgh, PA; the Project EAGLE Team met in Pittsburgh, PA; SuitSat deployment is “slipped” until February 2006; and Expedition 12 is very active on the ISS. All of the popular “LEOs”—AO-51, AO-27, AO-7, SO-50, FO-29, GO-32, and VO-52—remain active. AO-51 carries on its multi-mode operation/experimentation, and VO-52 has tested its Dutch Transponder successfully.

SSETI Express (XO-53)

The SSETI (Student Space Exploration and Technology Initiative) project has been discussed in some detail in recent columns, so details will not be repeated here. After a series of earlier launch schedule “slips,” at last press time the hardware and launch team was in Russia securing the equipment and going back home to wait after another “slip.” Launch finally occurred on October 27, 2005 at 06:52 UTC on board a Kosmos 3M rocket launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in central Russia. It was designated XO-53 by AMSAT by request of the SSETI team and was assigned the NORAD ID 28894.

Shortly after launch, SSETI deployed three CubeSat pico-satellites developed by universities. After launching the CubeSats, XO-53’s batteries stopped charging and the spacecraft went silent. The control team is hopeful that recovery will be possible, but as of press time there has been “no joy.” If/when XO-53 is recovered, it will also function as an amateur radio transponder for the remainder of the mission. SSETI can also downlink Earth images and demonstrate technology for the European Student Earth Orbiter. Most of the educational goals planned for SSETI have already been realized by the construction, launch, and initial operations, so the mission is already a success.

The three CubeSats deployed by SSETI Express and their status are:
• XI-V from Japan, University of Tokyo: Alive and well.

• UWE-1 from Germany, University of Würzburg: Alive and well.

• Ncube-2 from Norway, Andoya Rocket Range: After an initial period of about two months without any confirmation of deployment or operation, evidence of probable deployment has been discovered; however, there is still no evidence of operation.

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