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Fox-1 “In The Bag”!
Fox-1, the first Fox-1 series satellite (a.k.a. Fox-1A to the AMSAT Engineering Team) completed the final required testing January 16 through 23.
The tests included the launch provider required “DITL” (Day In The Life) and “environmental testing” subjecting the CubeSat to Vibration and Thermal Vacuum Bakeout, the latter two sometimes referred together as “shake and bake”.
DITL is required to show that Fox-1 will not deploy her antennas nor transmit any signals prior to a minimum of 45 minutes after she is deployed from the PPOD into orbit. The test was conducted at the “Fox Labs” QTH of Jerry Buxton NØJY on January 16. Bob Fitzpatrick KB5SQG assisted on site with Jonathan Brandenburg KF5IDY and Kevin Bishop KG7NSD supporting via GoToMeeting. It was a somewhat suspense filled test waiting for 45 minutes hoping nothing will happen, followed by another 11 minutes hoping something will happen. Everything performed as expected and the test was a success, with transmit antenna deployment at 56 minutes 21 seconds, receive antenna deployment at 56 minutes 32 seconds, and first transmission at 59 minutes 12 seconds.
On Monday January 19 Fox Engineering Team members Bob Davis KF4KSS, Burns Fisher W2BFJ, and Jerry Buxton NØJY traveled to Orlando FL to conduct the “shake and bake” at Qualtest.
Upon arrival Fox-1 was tested, inspected, and integrated into the TestPOD at the hotel and then the team traveled to Qualtest. Assisted by Lou McFadin W5DID, photographed by Dave Jordan AA4KN and observed by Ed Krome K9EK the vibration testing took place on Wednesday January 21 with frequencies and amplitudes that simulate the ride Fox-1 will be experiencing on the Atlas V rocket during launch, tested in all three (X,Y,Z) axes. After the “shake” a Short Functional Test and Aliveness Test were conducted, and Fox-1 worked like a charm!
Thursday January 21 Fox-1 was put into the thermal vacuum bell jar to be subjected to a 12 hour pre-soak at high altitude and temperature near the required test temperature in order to remove any rough contaminants that might harm the ion pump used during the “bake” procedure. Friday the 22nd Fox-1 went through the launch required Thermal Vacuum Bakeout which sustains a vacuum <1E-4 torr at a specified temperature for 6 hours in order to thoroughly remove any contaminants that might be left over from construction and handling and which could cause problems once the satellite and materials are exposed to the vacuum of space. Given the vacuum actually achieved during the process, we are very happy that Fox-1 was a “clean machine” even prior to the start of the procedure! Once the “bake” was complete Fox-1 was allowed to cool to near room temperature and then subjected to the same Short Functional Test and Aliveness Test as done on arrival in Florida and after the vibe test. Once again, Fox-1 worked as it should and was officially declared ready for launch!
While it is somewhat anti-climactic, Fox-1 was then carefully placed in an anti-static bag and will remain there until delivery and integration into the PPOD which is scheduled for mid-March 2015. Battery will be charged by the umbilical but no other handling, changes, testing, or function can be performed as once she passed the environmental testing Fox-1 officially became “hands off”.
As previously announced launch is scheduled for late August 2015.
Official photos and more information will be included in an upcoming AMSAT Journal. If you are on Facebook, the AMSAT North America Facebook page has some photos that were uploaded during the environmental testing.
Thanks NØJY and the Fox-1 Engineering Team for the information.
=============== UPDATE ===============
Fox-1 Continues Preparation for Launch
Following the successful conclusion of vibration and thermal/vacuum testing
Fox-1 now is stored in a clean environment waiting for launch. However,
there is still work going on behind the scenes.
AMSAT Vice-President Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY says several required
reports are being reviewed by the launch provider. We continue to make
necessary updates if they request further information in order to be sure
that all of the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. The paperwork is an
ongoing full workload in itself, both during the design and construction and
even after Fox-1 was finished.
For the remaining schedule, Fox-1 will have its Mission Readiness Review
(MRR) at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo CA on February 24 before a review board of
Cal Poly and NASA representatives. Next, Fox-1 will be delivered and
integrated into the P-POD at Cal Poly during the week of March 16. Then the
[ANS thanks AMSAT Vice-President Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY for the
The AMSAT Board of Directors met on December 2, 2014. As a part of AMSAT’s “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge, the Board of Directors approved $5000, within the 2015 engineering budget, to be used as seed money for future satellite development. Additional fund raising sources will also be investigated and pursued.
AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “We’re prepared to return to space starting in 2015 with a fleet of satellites that will equal, if not exceed, the performance, and availability to the average ham, of our previously popular AMSAT OSCAR 51. Meanwhile, we are preparing for the future looking to potentially leverage new technologies, to provide the best opportunities for enhancing amateur radio’s presence in space.”
Director Tom Clark, K3IO, noted the need for a defined future systems program. Tom said, “We saw a significant number of both new and old members who want to see the development of critical system elements for future opportunities by 2018-20. As I see it, critical ‘tall poles’ in applying potential technologies require significant work to begin now to ensure success.”
AMSAT is interested in supporting technology ideas that enhance the utility of using the CubeSat form factor to support more robust amateur satellite capabilities. The scope of potential interest in not limited; some examples of technology enhancement might include:
+ Microwave technology suitable for use in amateur spacecraft. This includes the need to identify optimum frequency bands.
+ Complementary, low-cost ground systems, including an effective ~1º antenna pointing system.
+ Define and develop optimum coding and modulation schemes for low power microwave use.
+ Attitude determination & control systems to point the spacecraft antennas towards the user while maximizing solar panel production.
Individuals interested in learning more about this initiative should contact AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY using the contact form found here.
Meanwhile, the development of AMSAT’s current series of the Fox-1 cubesats continues on schedule. AMSAT Vice-President of Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY reported during the Board meeting that construction and testing of five Fox satellites is on schedule:
+ Fox-1A will launch on a NASA ELaNa flight during the 3rd quarter of 2015 from Vandenberg AFB,
+ Fox-1B will fly with the Vanderbilt University radiation experiments expected in 2016.
+ Fox-1C will launch on Spaceflight’s maiden mission of the SHERPA multi-cubesat deployer during the 3rd quarter of 2015. This flight was purchased by AMSAT.
+ Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C. If not needed as a spare it will become available to launch on any open launch slot which becomes available and be submitted in a CSLI proposal in 2015.
+ Fox-1E is built as a flight spare for Fox-1B but has been included in a student science proposal as part of the November, 2014 Cubesat Launch Initiative (CSLI) for an ELaNa flight slot. If selected the Fox-1B spare will fly as Fox-1E.
More details of the “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge can be found on-line at:
http://www.amsat.org/?p=3395 – and – in the November/December 2014 AMSAT Journal, currently in-transit to your QTH.
[ANS thanks the AMSAT Board Of Directors for the above information]
At the 2014 AMSAT Space Symposium AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton announced the plan for the next generation of AMSAT satellites. “The door is open for everyone, to submit their ideas. AMSAT Engineering has a long term strategy and this is the first step.”
The Engineering long term strategy includes the following goals
- Advancement of amateur radio satellite technical and communications skills
- Enhance international goodwill
- Grow and sustain a skilled pool of amateur radio satellite engineers
- Establish and maintain partnerships with educational institutions
- Develop a means to use hardware common to all opportunities
With respect to the last goal Jerry said “Within the bounds of the type of satellite it takes to achieve any of the various orbit opportunities, let’s consider in those plans the possibility of developing a platform that can suit any and all orbits. Perhaps a modular CubeSat, using a common bus as we did in Fox-1, which gives great flexibility in building and flying different sizes and configurations of CubeSats with simple common-design hardware changes.”
Submissions should be thorough and contain the following information. The purpose of the proposal is not just in suggesting an idea; being an all-volunteer team AMSAT needs your help in carrying out the idea.
- Implementation – CubeSat platform
- Estimated timeline
- Cost – volunteer resources, commercial (COTS) units
- Launch – how does it get to orbit
- Strategy – how it fits into AMSAT’s Engineering long term strategy
As mentioned above the idea should be based on the CubeSat platform. This is the standard through which we will look for launches in the foreseeable future.
AMSAT is excited to announce that a new premium collectable is now available for qualifying donations to the Fox satellite program. AMSAT has commissioned a unique challenge coin for donors who have contributed at the $100 level or higher. This challenge coin is shaped as an isometric view of a Fox-1 CubeSat, complete with details such as the stowed UHF antenna, solar cells, and camera lens viewport. Struck in 3mm thick brass, plated with antique silver, and finished in bright enamel, the coin is scaled to be approximately 1:4 scale, or 1 inch along each of the six sides. The reverse has the AMSAT Fox logo.
The coins are scheduled for delivery just prior to the 2014 AMSAT Space Symposium, and will be first distributed to donors attending the Symposium. Coins will also be made available to qualifying donors that have contributed since the Fox-1C announcement on July 18, 2014 upon request. Donations may be made via the AMSAT website, via the FundRazr crowdsourcing app at http://fnd.us/c/6pz92/sh/561Zd, or via the AMSAT office at (888) 322-6728.
The Fox program is designed to provide a platform for university experiments in space, as well as provide FM repeater capability for radio amateurs worldwide. Fox-1A and 1C are set to launch in 2015, and Fox-1B (also known as RadFXSat) is awaiting NASA ELANA launch assignment. Further information on the Fox project can be found at http://www.amsat.org/?page_id=1113.
You may donate here via PayPal. Donations will be marked specifically for Fox-1C. Note that PayPal usually allows you to donate with a credit card, even if you do not have a PayPal account. However, PayPal requirements differ depending on your country. We have no control over this issue.
AMSAT has received a launch date for the Fox-1A satellite. Fox-1A will be launched on August 27, 2015 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on the NROL-55 flight for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. The launch time has not been announced.
Fox-1A Operating Frequencies include:
Uplink 435.180 MHz FM
Downlink 145.980 MHz FM
The AMSAT Fox series of satellites will include additional opportunities for launch during 2015-2016:
- Fox-1B will fly with the Vanderbilt University radiation experiments expected in 2016.
- Fox-1C* will launch on Spaceflight’s maiden mission of the SHERPA multi-cubesat deployer during the 3rd quarter of 2015.
- Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C. If not needed as a spare it will become available to launch on any open launch slot which becomes available and be submitted in a Cubesat Launch Initiative (CSLI) proposal in 2015.
- Fox-1E is built as a flight spare for Fox-1B but has been included in a student science proposal as part of the November, 2014 CSLI for an ELaNa flight slot. If selected the Fox-1B spare will fly as Fox-1E.
* The flight for Fox-1C has been purchased by AMSAT. It is not funded by the Cubesat Launch Initiative ELaNa program. Fundraising for the $125,000 launch costs for Fox-1C are underway. We have commissioned a unique challenge coin for donors who have contributed at the $100 level or higher. This challenge coin is shaped as an isometric view of a Fox-1 CubeSat, complete with details such as the stowed UHF antenna, solar cells, and camera lens viewport. Struck in 3mm thick brass, plated with antique silver, and finished in bright enamel, the coin is scaled to be approximately 1:4 scale, or 1 inch along each of the six sides. The reverse has the AMSAT Fox logo.
You may donate at:
- AMSAT’s page on the FundRazr crowdsourcing web site
- Call Martha at the AMSAT Office (888) 322-6728
[ANS thanks the Fox-1 Team for the above information]
APIC Safety Lead for the GRACE mission and the LSP Range Safety required AMSAT Engineering to demonstrate the safety of the Sanyo KR-1400AE cells used in the Fox-1A satellite, in light of the cells having no UL listing nor available manufacturer documentation on the cell case pressure and venting pressure.
After a few weeks spent on planning, obtaining components, construction, and rehearsal (there are no “do-overs” once the circuit is closed!) a small team consisting of Bob Fitzpatrick KB5SQG, Shura Buxton KD5FCQ, and Jerry Buxton NØJY performed the test on Sunday afternoon, December 7, 2014. The cell was subjected to a direct short circuit and the current, temperature, and physical behavior were observed, logged, and captured on video. While the report to APIC is For Official Use Only, the video is not and so you are invited to view the raw footage (minus a couple of spots where audio has been muted for expletives or chatter unrelated to the test) on YouTube.
The test was successful, as it was demonstrated that the cell did not burst nor greatly deform, there was no fire or damage, and no liquid leakage. There was quite a surprise, though!
The multimeter is reading mV DC across a .001 ohm current sense resistor, so the reading you see directly corresponds to current. Temperature is in degrees Celsius.
And Murphy was of course present, as a natural part of anything involving amateur radio activities. Fortunately, the stopwatch wound up almost exactly 10 seconds behind so translation of the readings was pretty simple!