Friday, March 22, 2013

AMSAT Preparing for Two Launch Opportunities

AMSAT's "RadFxSat" cubesat (Fox-1B) has been selected by NASA for launch in the fourth round of the space agency's Cubesat Launch Initiative. The Fox-1 satellite had been chosen in the intiative's third round and construction is scheduled to be completed later this year. The RadFxSat should be ready to fly in the second half of 2014, according to the AMSAT News Service (ANS). Both satellites include UHF/VHF analog FM transponders, will support high-speed digital data transmissions are designed to host advanced science payloads.

It is this ability to carry science payloads and AMSAT's recent focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education that has moved AMSAT's proposals to the "head of the class" in the NASA program, according to the group. AMSAT is still responsible for design and construction costs, but NASA will pay for the satellite launches, normally the most expensive aspect of an amateur satellite project. No specific launch dates have been set as of press time.

Along the same lines, ANS reports that AMSAT and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) have signed a collaboration agreement to jointly develop future satellite projects. The agreement was signed by AMSAT President Barry Baines and Virginia Tech Assistant Vice President John Rudd. Projects will be coordinated by AMSAT's Vice President of Engineering, Tony Monteiro, AA2TX, and Virginia Tech Professor Bob McGwier, N4HY.