Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pair of Ham Satellites Launched from Space Station

LONESTAR Mission Control at Texas A&M University
(NASA Johnson Space Center Photo)
A pair of student-built satellites testing technology to rendez- vous, dock and undock without human intervention was hand- launched from the International Space Station on February 1. The satellites, built independent- ly by students at Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin, both have transponders in the 70-centimeter amateur band.
According to the ARRL, Texas A&M's AggieSat 4 is carrying UT's smaller Bevo-2 cubesat and will release it about a month after launch, once both craft have moved far enough away from the space station. Once separated, the two satellites are supposed to establish communication with each other and then perform unguided docking and undocking maneuvers. This capability is seen as vital for future building projects in space. The two experiments are jointly known as LONESTAR, for Low-Earth Orbit Navigation Experiment for Spacecraft Testing Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking, and to reflect their roots in Texas. They were part of the cargo on a December 6 resupply mission to the ISS.

AggieSat-4 is transmitting FSK telemetry on 436.250 MHz; Bevo-2, once separated, is expected to transmit its own telemetry on 437.325 MHz CW and FSK. Reception reports are encouraged and should be e-mailed to <aggiesat@tamu.edu>.