Monday, December 15, 2014

Hitchin' a Ride. . .
Interplanetary satellite Shin’en 2
A Japanese space mission to visit an asteroid launched in early December included two hitch-hikers, amateur radio satellites Shin'en 2 (JG6YIG) and ARTSAT2:DESPATCH (JQ1ZNN), the two latest ham satellites to venture beyond Earth orbit (a recent Chinese moon mission also carried a downlink-only ham satellite). According to the ARRL Letter, the two satellites will have an elliptical deep-space orbit around the sun, between Venus and Mars. The satellites should remain in Earth's equatorial plane and their orbit will take them between 65 million and 121 million miles from the Sun.

Shin'en 2 carries a CW beacon and a telemetry transmitter, as well as a digital store-and-forward transponder with an uplink on 2 meters and a downlink on 70 centimeters. ARTSAT2:DESPATCH carries a sculpture built by a 3D printer as well as a 7-watt transmitter sending out CW on 437 MHz. The satellite carried only batteries and no solar panel, so its estimated operating time was only about one week. One of the first reception reports, according to the AMSAT News Service, came from Michal Zawada, SQ5KTM, who reported monitoring both satellites two days after launch from a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers, or 683,500 miles, from Earth.

A third satellite, called SpinSat, was launched November 28 from the International Space Station. Built by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, its prime mission is to test new nicro-thruster technology. But it also carries an amateur packet radio store-and-forward system on 437.230 MHz. It was expected to operate for approximately six months.