UKube-1 Falls Silent

UKube-1, the UK Space Agency’s first CubeSat, was launched into space in July 2014. It completed its successful nominal mission fourteen month later in September 2015

Since that date, for the past three years, the FUNcube based payload has continued to provide a transponder for use by radio amateurs and, additionally, 30+ channels of real time telemetry for STEM outreach and for use by schools and colleges. These downlinks have operated continuously on the 145 MHz band and more than 450 stations have supported this ongoing activity. They have uplinked the telemetry data to the FUNcube Data Warehouse where it is stored and available for research.

Just before midnight (UTC) on Thursday 18th October, the Warehouse received a data frame from KB6LTY, Christy Hunter in California. This is the last record of signals being received from the spacecraft and since that date, careful observations have failed to detect any signals from either of the transmitters carried by the spacecraft.

An early analysis of the last telemetry received has not shown any obvious anomalies, but this work continues.

Although it is obviously sad for both the amateur and educational worlds to lose such a valuable resource, both AO73-FUNcube 1 and EO88-Nayif 1 continue to operate nominally and JY1SAT and ESEO are expected to launch before the end of 2018.

UKube-1 - https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/communications/ukube-1/

Planned South African SDR Cubesat

AMSAT SA has announced that parallel to its analogue Kletskous CubeSat, the group is working on a digital project featuring a Software defined transponder.

Called AfriCUBE, the CubeSat will use the same space frame as KLETSKOUS. Anton Janovsky is current building a prototype transponder.

AMSATSA is inviting persons interested in becoming part of the development team to send their details to admin@amsatsa.org.za.

Meanwhile the development and final construction of the AMSAT SA KLETSKOUS is plagued by electronic component obsolescence. This forces unwanted design changes to be made to ensure that when the time comes to construct the final launch unit, the main components are still available. The KLETSKOUS team decided to freeze the design of KLETSKOUS and purchase a quantity of devices to proactively mitigate future obsolescence. This decision will also speed up the process of putting a final satellite on the table.

Every time we change designs to mitigate for the discontinued components, it is like starting the design afresh, often creating new problems that have to be solved. By freezing the design, in other words making a final decision on the main specialised devices to be used, we will be able to speed up the process of putting a flight ready unit on the table.
— Hannes Coetzee, ZS6BZP

KLETSKOUS is not a textbook design. Most of the sub-components that will make up KLETS KOUS are designed and being built by the volunteer team. "We do not have the finances to go out and purchase sub-units and simply wire them up," Hannes said.

FUNcube Operations Update

The FUNcube team have announced that AO-73 is now in full time amateur mode

FUNcube-1

As you will know, AO73/FUNcube-1 has been in full sunlight for over one month and has been transmitting continuously high power telemetry for most of that time. This has now been changed to full time amateur mode so the transponder is once again available. With the more stable on board temperatures being experienced, this means that the transponder frequencies are also now more stable.

We expect to leave it in this mode for some weeks so that the team can determine whether or not the currents flowing from the solar panels are having any noticeable effect on the spin period.

FUNcube-2

The FUNcube-2 transponder on UKube-1 continues to be in full time transponder mode. There are occasional breaks in service for a few seconds when the OBC reboots and the other onboard transmitter sends its CW beacon.

FUNcube-3 on Nayif-1

EO88/Nayif-1 continues to perform nominally with high power telemetry when in sunlight and amateur mode when in eclipse.

With their slightly different orbital characteristics it is useful that AO73 is now the early bird, EO88 comes over in the mid morning and UKube provides coverage in the afternoon.

We have been suffering from some network issues in relation to uploading the telemetry from the Dashboards to the Data Warehouse over the past couple of weeks. Apologies for this, but hopefully everything is now stable again. ie fingers are still crossed. Thank you for all the telemetry that you upload.

Like many other teams, we are presently waiting for the next Space-X launch from Vandenberg which is expected to be carrying a number of new amateur payloads, These will provide additional transponder and STEM capabilities for the amateur satellite service. Exciting times ahead.