Thursday, March 19, 2015

Space and Satellite Roundup

A series of spacewalks in late
February caused delays in a scheduled
ARISS contact and space station
SSTV transmissions. (NASA photo)
Imagine having your “sked” delayed by a spacewalk! That’s exactly what happened to a school group in Florida that was scheduled to have an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact on February 25. A series of spacewalks in late February to prepare the station to dock with commercial U.S. rockets also resulted in a cutback of planned slow-scan TV transmissions from the station. According to the ARRL Letter, all ham transmissions are suspended for during spacewalks for crew safety.

Speaking of ARISS, the program is now accepting applications for school contacts in the first half of 2016, with a focus on educational organizations with the potential to draw large numbers of participants and integrate the contact into a well-developed educational plan. The application deadline is April 15.

AMSAT-NA’s Fox-1A satellite is ready for launch, having passed its Mission Readiness Review in late February. Integration with the launch vehicle was scheduled for March 25, with
a tentative launch from California in late August of this year.

The European Space Agency is offering a ride to deep space for as many as six small cubesats and is hosting a competition to select those projects that will be accepted. The AMSAT News Service says the small satellites will be launched in 2020 along with Asteroid Impact Mission. The judges are looking for projects that will “produce meaningful scientific return” from deep space.

Finally, NASA is making available a collection of soundbites from space that are suitable for use as ringtones. Among the available files, according to the ARRL Letter, is one of the Juno spacecraft sending “HI” in Morse code during a flyby of Earth in 2013.