AMSAT Vice President for Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, will be part of a NASA TV prelaunch panel on October 7 at 1800 UTC. The Fox-1A Amateur Radio FM transponder CubeSat will be among 13 CubeSats flying as secondary payloads on the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) NROL-55 mission, scheduled to launch on an Atlas V rocket at 1249 UTC on Thursday, October 8, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NASA TV will broadcast the launch live, starting about 20 minutes prior to launch.
NASA will be hold two pre-launch briefings. The first, on October 7 at 1700 UTC, will highlight the growing importance of CubeSats in exploration and technology development. The second at 1800 UTC will discuss five of the CubeSats going into space the following day.
Buxton will talk about the Fox mission and science, and answer questions. Fox-1A is a 1U CubeSat carrying an FM repeater that will allow simple ground stations using a hand-held or low-power transceiver and an Arrow or Elk type antenna to make contacts via the satellite.
Fox-1A will employ Data Under Voice (DUV) to send 200 bps FSK telemetry data at the same time as FM audio. This is achieved 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. This will serve data-intensive experiments, such as the Virginia Tech Camera, 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 will go aloft as part of the NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program, which offers free launches to educational entities and encourages science missions. AMSAT has been developing a family of CubeSats with Amateur Radio payloads that can support advanced science experiments, and it has been working with universities on scientific and educational missions that fit the ELaNa mold.
Fox-1A will include 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.
Four of the CubeSats going up on October 8 are NASA sponsored, and nine are NRO-sponsored, one of which was developed with NASA funding. All will be flown 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