RadFxSat-2 Update – January 29, 2021

From AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY:

Thanks go to W5SAT, who applied the amateur radio spirit of exploration and innovation to helping find out “what’s up?” with RadFxSat-2.

We appreciate his work and immediately applied it to our processes as we discover/recover RadFxSat-2.

Why was it not heard or found week ago?  There could be an unexplained behavior such that it could not and was not able to occur until the other day.  Our stations attempted transponder use under various conjectured and commanded states throughout this period as part of the exploration of the anomaly, but did not detect any signals.  They were able to confirm their signals the night of the 27th.

Following that we turned attention to the beacon, as you know.  We have not discovered the beacon yet and we have contacted some top class “big gun” stations, asking for their help.  The signal will obviously be pipsqueak and may not even be there.  The drive to find it, or if it is not detected then to take possible actions to activate it, is the information in the telemetry that is paramount to knowing through satellite data exactly what is going on.  We asked you that the transponder not be used because any power to signals in the transponder downlink is power stolen from the beacon strength.  We have asked everybody to listen, as from the beginning, to help find it and find status and solutions faster.  It may sound boring or useless but it is at the heart of every satellite launch and commissioning phase and perhaps the biggest part the general satellite community can play in the lifetime of the satellite.  The payoff is important to all of us, and I invite anyone to join the hunt and share in the enjoyment of – whatever happens.

I can’t say what we will be doing tomorrow for sure, we will be looking for any reports and telemetry as more and larger stations join and because we have seen behavior that is not clearly understood.  Procedures and conclusions that are not carefully thought out could result in losing what we have now.  It is comparable to NASA taking careful time in dealing with anomalies (barring safety-related issues).  Very importantly, we will be watching to see if anyone captured anything at all from the telemetry in the beacon.  All you have to do is hunt and catch one frame and you are a hero in this game.  Your help is greatly appreciated.

Unless there is some big news over the weekend, I expect that Monday evening would be the next opportunity for a short update, time permitting.