In separate launches both Slovakia and Ghana have put their first satellites into orbit, while New Zealand is looking to re-invigorate its satellite project. All are CubeSat projects.
Slovakia’s first satellite—skCUBE—was launched into space Friday, June 23, 2017 atop an Indian PSLV-C38 rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Center Space Center. According to a press release by the Slovak )rganization for Space Activities (SOSA), Slovakia is the 78th country to launch its own satellite.
There are several experiments aboard SKCube. One of the experiments will attempt to characterize the behavior of very low frequency (VLF) radio waves in the ionosphere. Other experiments include measurement of satellite rotation and air traffic control.
GhanaSat-1 was launched Friday, July 7, by NASA. Developed by students at All Nations University in Koforidua, with support from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), one of its missions is to monitor illegal mining in the country.
Although neither of these satellites is an amateur radio satellite, the SKCube does have an amateur radio connection. The Slovak Association of Radio Amateurs played a big part in the success of the skCUBE project. Also, you can monitor signals from the satellite, and if you fill out the online reception form, you can get a QSL card from the project organizers.
One thing that both projects share, besides an immense national enthusiasm for the projects, is the desire to advance technical education in their countries. Technical engineer of GhanaSat-1 satellite, Ernest Matey, noted that [GhanaSat-1] opens the doors for more technological exploration. The SKCube project organizers noted that the “main aim of their project was to gain hands-on experience with space hardware, promote the importance of STEM education in Slovakia, inspire young people, and strengthen Slovakia’s position within the European Space Agency (ESA).”
Kiwis making progress with their satellite project
AMSAT_ZL has reached a staging point in the development of their satellite project, KiwiSAT. Although this project was begun several years ago, it hit a roadblock when it ran afoul of U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Apparently, these regulations apply to CubeSat technology, as well as military satellite technology, and because KiwiSAT was heavily dependent upon U.S. technology, they found themselves back at square one.
The KiwiSAT Team soldiered on, though, and has made substantial progress. Unfortunately, the KiwiSAT Engineering Team Leader, Fred Kennedy ZL1BYP, has had some health project and is now unable to continue his important work. As a result, AMSAT-ZL is now looking for a coordinator to join the team and lead the project through this final stage.
KiwiSAT is going to be a more traditional amateur radio satellite. According to the KiwiSAT website:
The design of KiwiSAT is based on the Microsat formula and is basically a system of trays clamped together in a box shape. Solar Cells cover the exterior to charge the batteries which are the prime power source for all on-board systems.
Various antenna are mounted on the top and bottom of the satellite it such a way as to give an excellent radiation pattern thus reducing signal strength variations common in many small satellites.
The satellite systems have been broken down into, Linear Transponder, FM Transponder and Command System, Power Supply, On-board Computer (Integrated Housekeeping Unit – IHU), Science Package and Structure.
Best of luck to the Kiwis and their satellite crew.
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