Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Launch of Two Hundred 437MHz Satellites

The largest ever launch of 437 MHz satellites is planned for March 16 at 0841 UT when 200 Sprite satellites will be launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS 3 mission
They will be deployed into a 325×315 km 51.5 degree inclination orbit. You should be able to watch the launch live on NASA TV at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv

A Sprite is a tiny, 3.5 by 3.5 cm, single-board spacecraft that was developed by Zac Manchester KD2BHC. It has a microcontroller, radio, and solar cells and is capable of carrying single-chip sensors, such as thermometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and accelerometers.

The 200 Sprites are carried in a 3U CubeSat called KickSat. They are stacked atop a spring-loaded pusher and secured by a nichrome burn wire system.

On reaching orbit KickSat will perform a de-tumble maneuver and establish communication with Cornell University’s ground station. After check-out, the spacecraft will be put in a sun-pointing attitude and spun up to maintain that attitude.

A command signal from the ground station will then trigger the deployment and the Sprites will be released as free-flying spacecraft. After deployment, telemetry and sensor measurements from the individual Sprites will be received through Cornell’s ground station in Ithaca, NY, as well as several other amateur ground stations around the world.

Due to the low orbit Sprites will have a short lifetime before they re-enter the atmosphere and burn up. In the best-case scenario the orbital lifetime could be six weeks but realistically it may be considerably shorter depending on atmospheric conditions.

All Sprites operate on a single frequency of 437.240 MHz and use Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). The transmitter runs 10 mW output of Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) modulated binary data with each data bit modulated as a 511 bit Pseudo-Random Number (PRN) sequence. The ITU emission designator is 50K0G1D.

The KickSat CubeSat has downlinks on 437.505 MHz and 2401-2436.2 MHz.

KickSat Sprite Ground Station by Andy Thomas G0SFJ
British Interplanetary Society: Sprite Technical Summary
KickSat project information
KickSat on KickStarter

Check this site for the latest CRS 3 launch date


My Stamp Collecting Blog

Counter Added January 1, 2011

free counters


The A index [ LOW is GOOD ]

  • 1 to 6 is BEST
  • 7 to 9 is OK
  • 11 or more is BAD

Represents the overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Ap" if averaged from the Kp-Index) (an average of the eight 3-hour K-Indices) ('A' referring to amplitude) over a given 24 hour period, ranging (linearly) typically from 1-100 but theoretically up to 400.

A lower A-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Ap-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

SFI index [ HIGH is GOOD ]

  • 70 NOT GOOD
  • 80 GOOD
  • 90 BETTER
  • 100+ BEST

The measure of total radio emissions from the sun at 10.7cm (2800 MHz), on a scale of 60 (no sunspots) to 300, generally corresponding to the sunspot level, but being too low in energy to cause ionization, not related to the ionization level of the Ionosphere.

Higher Solar Flux generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; Solar Flux rarely affects the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

K index [ LOW is GOOD ]

  • 0 or 1 is BEST
  • 2 is OK
  • 3 or more is BAD
  • 5 is VERY VERY BAD

The overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Kp" if averaged over the planet) over the past 3 hours, measured by 13 magnetometers between 46 & 63 degrees of latitude, and ranging quasi-logarithmically from 0-9. Designed to detect solar particle radiation by its magnetic effect. A higher K-index generally means worse HF conditions.

A lower K-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Kp-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

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