UKube-1, the UK Space Agency’s first national spacecraft, has now completed its nominal mission following more than 14 months of operation. Although the USKA-supported mission phase has ended, discussions are underway with AMSAT-UK about the possibility of its taking over UKube-1 operations to continue the spacecraft’s educational and outreach activities.
Launched in July 2014 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, UKube-1 hosts FUNcube-2 — actually a set of FUNcube boards flying as a sub-system of the 3U UKube-1. The FUNcube project has been intended to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiatives now under way in the US, the UK, and elsewhere, with a target audience of primary and secondary school students.
A 3U CubeSat, UKube-1 carries a FUNcube subsystem 400 mW inverting Amateur Radio SSB/CW linear transponder, with an uplink of 435.080-435.060 MHz, and a downlink of 145.930-145.950 MHz. The satellite also carries a FUNcube subsystem beacon on 145.915 and transmits telemetry on 145.840 MHz. Despite some technical challenges, the mission has achieved a range of milestones including successful testing of onboard camera technology.
Outside of its Amateur Radio capabilities, UKube-1 was a technology demonstration mission aimed, among other things, at attracting and training future generations of engineers, fast-tracking space technology development, and engaging with students. Participation in the mission by Clyde Space, which built the CubeSat, has energized the company, which more than quadrupled in size over the last 3 years. More than 60 CubeSats now are planned through production in Glasgow over the next 18 months. — Thanks to AMSAT-UK