Right on schedule at 1249 UTC on October 8, the Atlas rocket carrying the AMSAT Fox-1A Amateur Radio CubeSat and 12 others lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) NROL-55 mission. Fox-1A carries an Amateur Radio FM transponder. Stations in Europe and Japan have reported copying telemetry from the 1U CubeSat. The first pass over the US will be at about 2350 UTC.
Fox-1A employs Data Under Voice (DUV) to send 200 bps FSK telemetry data at the same time as FM audio by making use of sub-audible frequencies below 200 Hz. High-speed 9600 bps FSK also can be transmitted when the transponder is not operating for data-intensive experiments and is only active when commanded from the ground. Free FoxTelem telemetry decoder software is available to decode both DUV and high-speed telemetry. AMSAT also has posted a Fox Operating Guide.
Fox-1A went aloft as part of the NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program, which offers free launches to educational entities and encourages science missions. Prior to the launch, AMSAT Vice President for Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, was part of a NASA TV prelaunch panel.
The transponder has not yet been activated, but Fox-1A includes a Mode B (U/V) FM transponder with an uplink frequency of 435.180 MHz, and a downlink frequency of 145.980 MHz and capabilities similar to those of the AO-51 satellite, which went dark in late 2011. Satellite users are advised not to attempt to access Fox-1A until AMSAT announces that it is available.
Four of the CubeSats going up on October 8 were NASA sponsored, and nine were NRO-sponsored, one of which was developed with NASA funding. All flew on the NRO’s Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experiment (GRACE), which is an auxiliary payload aboard the NROL-55 mission. These CubeSats also include the first to be designed, built and operated by students in Alaska, and the first from Native American tribal college students. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service and NASA