The following is excerpted from the Apogee View column of AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, as published in the latest AMSAT Journal:
The launch of Grace/L55 from Vandenberg AFB is slipping from December 2014 into Summer 2015 due to governmental priorities. Fox-1 is currently manifested on that launch as part of the ELaNa-12 group of satellites. Instead of launching our vehicle in December, another launch vehicle with payload is taking precedence, forcing a reschedule of ELaNa-12. Currently, we are now scheduled to fly on 1 AUG 2015 rather than December 2014.
This delay is mixed news for AMSAT. While we are disappointed that this will mean that Fox-1 will not fly in 2014, it also means that we have more time to complete and test the spacecraft prior to delivery to SRI. In the overall scheme of things, it allows AMSAT to have greater confidence in the delivery of a thoroughly tested spacecraft by taking more time to allow for unforeseen contingencies and to do the ground testing.
Meanwhile, the National Reconnaissance Office – Office of Space Launch (NRO OSL) is looking for cubesats to be manifested on another launch that will now fly later than our original December 2014 launch date but before the current expected flight of GRACE/L-55. The ELaNa-11 Mission, manifested on the ULTRASAT/AFSPC-5 launch has also slipped and is now scheduled to fly in the March/April 2015 timeframe rather than in February 2015. Because both launches are being delayed, NRO OSL has asked that cubesat owners currently scheduled for ELaNa-11 or ELaNa-12 to deliver their satellites to Cal Poly by 1 OCT 14, which is four months later than our original delivery date with the potential for being flown on the earlier flight. The ELaNa-11 orbit is slightly different, with a lower apogee and inclination, but also a shorter orbital life (6.5 years vs. 11 years for ELaNa-12). Consequently, we’re looking at the impacts of flying earlier with the tradeoff of shorter mission duration.
Again, I must point out that as a secondary payload, AMSAT is at the mercy of decisions by those who are “paying the freight.” We’re benefiting from a launch paid for by the US Air Force; their mission priorities drive the launch opportunities. While AMSAT members may be disappointed by the change in launch schedule, please understand that receiving a free launch comes with the expectation that launch schedules may indeed be altered to satisfy other requirements. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, our engineering team is moving forward with completing Fox-1. AMSAT VP-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY will discuss the status of Fox-1 and the launch situation at Hamvention’s AMSAT Forum.
For more information on the Fox satellites, please visit