Pupils at at St Thomas More (STM) Cathedral School in Arlington, Virginia, have begun tracking the orbit of STMSat-1, the 1U CubeSat they built and which was deployed on May 16 from the International Space Station. It is object 41476. After being place in orbit, the CubeSat had continued roughly in the same orbit as the ISS and of other satellites deployed on May 16. Emily Laura at St Thomas More told ARRL on May 19 that STMSat-1 will turn itself on once its batteries have charged fully and its mechanized antennas deploy. The school has no means of communicating with the satellite.
Some satellite enthusiasts had expected STMSat-1 to come alive within 45 minutes of being placed in orbit — and, in any event, they may have been listening in the wrong place. The little spacecraft apparently will transmit 9600 bps GMSK telemetry on 437.000 MHz, while its SSTV images eventually will be transmitted on 437.800 MHz. Laura advised those following STMSat-1 developments to listen for it on 437.000 MHz and to stay up to date on developments via the CubeSat’s Twitter feed, @STMSat11.
The satellite is the first to be designed and built by grade schoolers, who were supported by NASA technical advisors and local radio amateurs. STMSat-1 was transported to the ISS in a December launch. The kit-built satellite initially had been set for release into space in mid-February. That deployment was postponed until early March, however, before being put on hold again. The satellite project is part of the school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education initiatives.
NASA’s Technology Demonstration Office provided the school with a mobile “clean room” for the construction period and has been advising the school on tracking the satellite. The space agency also provided the school with a ground station antenna to receive its 70 centimeter signals, once the satellite comes to life. NASA engineers programmed the operating frequencies for the transmitter in early 2014. Laura said NASA engineers had advised listening on 437.000 MHz.