AMSAT-NA Opportunity for Rideshare to Geosynchronous Orbit

(L-R) Sonya Rowe, KK4NLO; Jerry Buxton, N0JY; Bob McGwier, N4HY; Franklin Antonio, N6NKF; Tom Clark, K3IO; Michelle Thompson, W5NYV; and Phil Karn, KA9Q standing next to the Aquila M8 Bus flight article. (Click photo for larger image.)

AMSAT is excited to announce that we have accepted an opportunity to participate in a potential rideshare  as a hosted payload on a geosynchronous satellite planned for launch in 2017. An amateur radio payload, operating in the Amateur Satellite Service, will fly on a spacecraft which Millennium Space Systems (MSS) of El Segundo, CA is contracted to design, launch, and operate for the US government based on their Aquila M8 Series Satellite Structure.

A meeting to discuss this potential rideshare took place on April 13 at Millennium Space Systems that included Dr. Bob McGwier, N4HY; Sonya Rowe, KK4NLO; Franklin Antonio, N6NKF, co-founder of Qualcomm; Jerry Buxton, N0JY, AMSAT Vice President of Engineering and member of the board for AMSAT-NA; Dr. Tom Clark, K3IO, Director and President Emeritus of AMSAT-NA; Phil Karn, KA9Q; and Michelle Thompson, W5NYV.

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Fox-1C and Fox-1D Include L-Band Uplink; Fox-1E Linear Transponder Announced

AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, announced plans to incorporate an L band receiver in Fox-1C and Fox-1D. The addition will allow ground commanded selection of the U/v (normal Fox-1 bands) or the new L/v 1.2 GHz (23 cm) mode. Both bands will operate as FM single channel.

Rather than adding a complete new receiver, the L band “Project Downshifter” will convert the received L band signal down to the Fox-1 uplink frequency and feed it to the regular UHF receiver on the Fox-1satellite. The design will not require an additional antenna on the satellite because the existing UHF antenna will work for L band receive as well.

In concert with the development of the satellite segment, a new group of volunteers is working on a companion uplink station to convert UHF to the L band uplink frequencies:

+ Bruce Herrick, WW1M
+ Dan Hubert, VE9DAN
+ Elizabeth Schenk, KC1AXX
+ Dave Smith, W6TE
+ Alfred Watts, AF5VH

The team is planning to have an affordable L band uplink ground station available to amateurs by the time Fox-1C is on orbit.

In further news, Jerry announced the plan to construct a Fox-1E “Evolution” variation of the Fox-1 series which will carry a Mode J linear transponder. The transponder is planned to be 30 kHz wide and will also have a 1200 bps BPSK telemetry beacon.

The purpose of the project is to test a design for a linear transponder that could be made available to CubeSat builders as a secondary, or even primary radio payload thus bringing more opportunities for amateur radio in space as well as offering AMSAT’s proven communications skills as a telemetry option.

AMSAT has been approached for a launch opportunity for Fox-1E in 2016, but launch details can not be shared at this time.

Jerry concluded, “It is important that we find additional resources to help the Fox-1 Team with these new endeavors. We are looking for volunteers who have solid RF building and testing experience to work on both the downshifter and the transponder prototyping and construction.” If you would like to help and be a part of the success of Fox-1C/D and Fox-1E, please contact Jerry through the AMSAT Engineering volunteer form page on-line at: