At 06:50 UTC on November 23, 2017, AMSAT Engineering officially commissioned AO-91 (RadFxSat/Fox-1B). AMSAT Vice-President Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, turned over operation to AMSAT Operations in a QSO on the AO-91 transponder with Mark Hammond, N8MH, of the AMSAT Operations team during the pass over the Eastern United States.
N8MH responded and declared AO-91 open for amateur use!
AO-91 was built as a partnership with Vanderbilt University ISDE and hosts four payloads for the study of radiation effects on commercial off the shelf components. The satellite was launched on November 18, 2017 as part of the ELaNa XIV mission, secondary payloads aboard the Delta II rocket that carried the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1) satellite to orbit. AO-91 also features the Fox-1 style FM U/v repeater with an uplink on 435.250 MHz (67.0 Hz CTCSS) and a downlink on 145.960 MHz. Satellite and experiment telemetry are downlinked via the “DUV” subaudible telemetry stream and can be decoded with the FoxTelem software.
The Delta II rocket carrying RadFxSat (Fox-1B) launched at 09:47:36 UTC on November 18, 2017 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Following a picture-perfect launch, RadFxSat was deployed at 11:09 UTC. Then the wait began. At 12:12 UTC, the AMSAT Engineering team, watching ZR6AIC’s WebSDR waterfall, saw the characteristic “Fox Tail” of the Fox-1 series FM transmitter, confirming that the satellite was alive and transmitting over South Africa. Shortly after 12:34 UTC, the first telemetry was received and uploaded to AMSAT servers by Maurizio Balducci, IV3RYQ, in Cervignano del Friuli, Italy. Initial telemetry confirmed that the satellite was healthy.
After confirmation of signal reception, OSCAR Number Administrator Bill Tynan, W3XO, sent an email to the AMSAT Board of Directors designating the satellite AMSAT-OSCAR 91 (AO-91). Bill’s email stated:
RadFxSat (Fox-1B) was launched successfully at 09:47 UTC today November 18, 2017 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has been received by several amateur stations.
RadFxSat (Fox-1B), a 1U CubeSat, is a joint mission of AMSAT and the Institute for Space and Defense Electronics at Vanderbilt University. The Vanderbilt package is intended to measure the effects of radiation on electronic components, including demonstration of an on-orbit platform for space qualification of components as well as to validate and improve computer models for predicting radiation tolerance of semiconductors.
AMSAT constructed the remainder of the satellite including the spaceframe, on-board computer and power system. The amateur radio package is similar to that currently on orbit on AO-85 with an uplink on 435.250 MHz (67.0 Hz CTCSS) and a downlink on 145.960 MHz. Experiment telemetry will be downlinked via the DUV subaudible telemetry stream, which can be decoded using the FoxTelem software.
RadFxSat (Fox-1B) was sent aloft as a secondary payload on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket with the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-1 satellite. RadFxSat (Fox-1B) is one of five CubeSats making up this NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) XIV mission, riding as secondary payloads aboard the JPSS-1 mission.
Since RadFxSat (Fox-1B) has met all of the qualifications necessary to receive an OSCAR number, I, by the authority vested in me by the AMSAT President, do hereby confer on this satellite the designation AMSAT-OSCAR 91 or AO-91. I join amateur radio operators in the U.S. and around the world in wishing AO-91 a long and successful life in both its amateur and scientific missions.
I, along with the rest of the amateur community, congratulate all of the volunteers who worked so diligently to construct, test and prepare for launch the newest amateur radio satellite.
William A. (Bill) Tynan, W3XO
AMSAT-NA OSCAR Number Administrator
AMSAT Engineering reminds stations that the satellite will not be available for general use until the on-orbit checkouts are complete. Please continue to submit telemetry to assist the Engineering team in completing the commissioning process.
The Air Force Academy satellite FalconSAT-3 is now open for amateur radio use as a digital store-and-forward system. FalconSAT-3 was built in 2005 and 2006 by cadets and faculty in the Space Systems Research Center at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, and launched in 2007 on an Atlas V.
After serving in scientific and training roles, the Academy has now made the satellite available for Amateur radio use.
The satellite is in a 35.4 degree inclination orbit, with an approximate altitude of 465 to 476 km. The Packet Bulletin Board System is operating at 9600 baud with a 145.840 uplink, and 435.103 downlink. Output power is 1 watt, and the downlink is continuously on. Digipeating is enabled for live QSOs, but unattended digipeating operations is not authorized at this time. Current Keplerian elements can be found in the AMSAT distributed Keplerian elements.
AMSAT-NA Vice President, Educational Relations, Joe Spier, K6WAO of Reno, NV, has been elected by the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors as Executive Vice President during a Board Meeting via a conference call that took place on August 8, 2017. Joe’s new duties will include implementation of AMSAT-NA’s Strategic Planning. He will continue in his other duties as 2017 Space Symposium Chairman, AMSAT News Service Co-Editor, ARISS-NA Education, and Educational Relations until new personnel can be appointed or the task assigned is completed.
Under the AMSAT ByLaws, the position of Executive Vice President is one of seven senior officer positions that are approved by the AMSAT Board of Directors.
Included in the ByLaw stated duties, “the Executive Vice President shall act in the place of the President in the President’s absence, and shall have such other duties as the Board may determine.” [Bylaws, Article II, Section 5B].
In addition, the Executive VP is assigned the responsibility of AMSAT External Relations team leader and as acting director of any team leader position that is not filled.
Joe is a Life Member of AMSAT-NA and has served in Educational Relations during the past six years. He also has Life Memberships in the ARRL, SARA (Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers) and the AFA (Air Force Association). He holds an Extra Class license as well Commercial licenses.
AMSAT-NA President, Barry Baines, WD4ASW said, “I extend my congratulations to Joe on his new position of leadership in AMSAT-NA. As EVP, he will be working closely with me on a variety of matters involving various AMSAT departments as we move forward on our strategic planning process as well as day-to-day management of the organization. Joe’s dedication to the strategic planning process will enhance the future of AMSAT-NA.”
[ANS thanks the AMSAT-NA BOD for the above information]