SpaceX has announced that the SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission carrying AMSAT’s Fox-1Cliff CubeSat has been deployed into orbit. A SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle carried Fox-1Cliff and several other satellites into space this afternoon Eastern Time from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, following a 1-day launch delay.
“Successful deployment of four microsats and the upper and lower free flyer with additional payloads for Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express confirmed. Follow @SpaceflightInc for further mission updates,” SpaceX tweeted this afternoon following the launch.
In addition to Fox-1Cliff, the SSO-A mission carried several other Amateur Radio satellites, including FUNcube on ESEO, JY1-SAT, K2SAT, and ExseedSat.
Fox-1Cliff carries the Fox-1 U/v FM repeater, AMSAT’s L-Band Downshifter, the flight spare of the AO-85 Vanderbilt University Low Energy Proton (LEP) radiation experiment, and the standard Fox-1 Penn State University-Erie MEMS gyroscope experiment. Virginia Tech provided a video graphics array camera that’s similar to the one on AO-92 but which will provide images at a higher 640 × 480 resolution.
The Fox-1Cliff downlink for FM voice and data-under-voice (DUV) is 145.920 MHz. Uplinks are 435.300 and 1267.300 MHz.
Fox-1Cliff is named in honor of long-time AMSAT member, contributor, and benefactor Cliff Buttschardt, K7RR (SK), who died in 2006. His contributions to AMSAT and other Amateur Satellite programs — including his service as an adviser during the initial development of the CubeSat specification at California Polytechnic State University — earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award from Project OSCAR in 2006.
In November as the launch was pending, AMSAT asked Amateur Radio satellite enthusiasts to listen for Fox-1Cliff’s telemetry for the initial 72 – 96 hours as on-orbit checkout gets under way. The first station to successfully receive and submit telemetry to the AMSAT server will receive a special 3D printed QSL card acknowledging their contribution.
“If you are capturing telemetry with FoxTelem, please be sure that “Upload to Server” is checked in your settings and your Ground Station Params are filled in as well,” AMSAT has said. In the initial Safe Mode or Beacon Mode after startup, the transmitter is limited to 10 seconds on time followed by a 2-minute off cycle. “You will hear Veronica announcing ‘Fox-1Cliff Safe Mode,’ while in Beacon Mode,” AMSAT said.
AMSAT has said that the on-orbit check-out procedure will be similar to Fox-1D and could be completed in as few as 7 days.
“It is very important, not to mention just plain good Amateur operating practice, to refrain from using the transponder uplink, so we can do the on orbit tests, including when we turn on transponder mode for testing,” AMSAT said. “AMSAT will make it broadly known when the tests are complete and the transponder is available for all to use.” — Thanks to SpaceX and AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY
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