[ans] ANS-056.07 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin - AO51 Schedule Change to Support Falconsat-3 Testing

JoAnne Maenpaa k9jkm at comcast.net
Sun Feb 25 10:09:19 PST 2007

SB SAT @ AMSAT $ANS-056.07
AO-51 Schedule Change to Support Falconsat-3 Testing

AMSAT News Service Bulletin 056.07
February 25, 2007
BID: $ANS-056.07

The AMSAT AO-51 Operations Team has released this schedule change:

February 26 and possibly February 27 during the local AM passes
over Colorado the AO-51 U band voice transmitter will be off and
the S band will be on in digital mode at 38k4 and 78k4.  These
mode changes  are to facilitate the testing of the US Air Force
Academy satellite ground station in preparation for the launch
of Falconsat-3.

Falconsat-3 (FS-3) is another in the series of satellites built
at the US Air Force Academy.  It is presently scheduled to launch
March 8 from Cape Canaveral on an Atlas-V (mission STP-01).  USAFA
Space Systems Research Center satellites are science oriented and
university class.

FS-3 carries two space weather plasma detection experiments along
with a micro pulse plasma thruster attitude control experiment.
The objectives of the program are to do real science and educate
USAFA cadets about space systems design, construction, testing,
and operations.  About 40 senior cadets are in the program each
year.  Falconsats are operated from the ground station at USAFA
near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Once in orbit FS-3’s mission is to collect data from its experiments
and provide cadets in the Space Operations major an actual space ops
experience.  Additionally Astronautics major cadets will analyze
telemetry and make operations decisions.  FS-3 will perform its
primary mission on DOD frequencies with a downlink at 2.220 GHz.
Modulation is GMSK at 38k4 or 76k8 bps.  All transmissions are in
the clear and are AX.25.  Additionally FS-3 carries an Amateur
transmitter and receiver with a downlink at 435.100 Mhz.  Modulation
is GMSK at 9k6 with faster bit rates available.  The Amateur
uplink is in VHF and the frequency will be made available when
FS-3 reverts to Amateur mode.

After the primary science mission is completed the satellite will be
transferred to the USAFA Amateur Radio Club and operated as an Amateur
satellite.  It can function much like AO-51 in either an FM voice or
digital store and forward configurations.  During the first few weeks
on orbit FS-3 will be commissioned, which includes uploading software
and testing all functions. During that time the Amateur payload will
be exercised.

The primary avionics in FS-3 are from SpaceQuest with additional
modules built by cadets and faculty at USAFA and contractors.
Software modules are from BekTek, SSTL, and Colorado Satellite Services,
with additional software by cadets and faculty at USAFA.  The satellite
is ‘ESPA class’. The basic structure is a cube about 24” on a side.
There is a 3 meter gravity gradient boom that will be extended from the
‘top’ on orbit.  On the ‘bottom’ are the pulse plasma thrusters and
various antennas including an array of S band patch antennas provided
by S&L Technologies of Orlando along with omni antennas for S, V and
U bands.

The USAFA ground station consists of two complete units with individual
masts on the roof of the classroom annex building.  Antennas include 6’
and 10’ dishes and Yagis.  Rotators are the heavy duty MT-3000 and
MT-1000 from M2.

The first USAFA satellite, Falcon Gold, went into GTO and measured the
strength of GPS signals from well above the constellation.  The results
showed signal levels were adequate to warrant further experiments and
in part lead to the GPS experiment on AO-40 and other satellites.
Falconsat 4 and 5 are in the design stages now.  Each is expected to
carry an Amateur transmitter and receiver in addition to their primary

After launch reception reports will be appreciated.  Reports may be
sent to: fs3reports at coloradosatellite.com

[ANS thanks Jim White, WD0E and the AO-51 Operations Team for the
 above information.]


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