Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hams Asked to Help Run Down Satellite Batteries

Separation of the co-launched FASTRAC-1
and -2 satellites (Artist's conception).
Photo Courtesy University of Texas
It was kind of an unusual request -- we need your help to run down our batteries! The controllers of FASTRAC-1, a research satellite that is intended eventually to be opened for use by hams, noticed that one of its experiments was not booting up correctly. The only way to restart it is by rebooting everything, which can only happen if the battery voltages on board fall below a certain level. But the batteries have consistently held more charge than was needed for operations during the year-plus that the satellite has been in orbit.

So controllers decided to open the satellite for digipeating by hams, hoping that increased use -- especially over the weekend of December 10-11 -- would drain the batteries enough to prompt a reset. At press time in mid-December, there had been no word from controllers as to whether the maneuver worked. For updates, visit <>.