Over the past four years, a team of volunteer experts from AMSAT-UK, in collaboration with their colleagues in the Netherlands at AMSAT-NL have worked on a new amateur satellite concept –The FUNcube Project
The initial plan was to design, build and launch a single spacecraft but further flight opportunities have become available and the project now comprises of the following missions:
FUNcube-1 (AO73) is a complete educational 1U CubeSat with the goal of enthusing and educating young people about radio, space, physics and electronics. FUNcube-1, now registered as a Dutch spacecraft, was successfully launched from Russia on a DNEPR rocket on Nov 21st 2013 at 07:11:29 UTC and, after more than two years in orbit, continues to perform well. More than 900 stations, including many at schools and colleges around the world, have received and decoded the telemetry. Details of current operations and the telemetry available from FUNcube-1 can be seen at warehouse.funcube.org.uk/ We also have a dedicated educational outreach page here funcube.org.uk/education-outreach/
FUNcube-1 is in a Sun-Synchronous Low Earth Orbit approx 670km above the earth. In such an orbit a satellite passes over most locations approximately 3 times in the morning, and 3 in the evening, every day. This schedule allows the morning passes to be used for educational purposes and the evening passes for Amateur Radio communications.
FUNcube-1 also carries a UHF to VHF linear transponder with approx 300mW PEP output and which can be used by Radio Amateurs worldwide for SSB and CW communications.
Measuring just 10cm x 10cm x 10cm, and with a mass of less than 1kg, FUNcube-1 is the first spacecraft to have a primary mission of educational outreach to schools and the smallest ever satellite to carry a linear transponder for radio amateurs.
FUNcube-2 on UKube-1 is a follow-on project and comprises of a set of FUNcube boards that is flying as part of the separate UKube-1 triple cubesat and it has identical goals. This spacecraft was successfully launched on a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur on July 8th 2014. The main mission has now been completed and discussions are underway with the UK Space Agency concerning future operations of the FUNcube payload.
They are both intended to support the educational Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) initiatives presently underway in the UK and around the world.
The target audience consists of primary and secondary school pupils and the FUNcubes feature a 145 MHz telemetry beacon that will provide a strong signal for the pupils to receive.
A simple receiver has also been developed. The FUNcube Dongle connects to the USB port of a laptop to display telemetry and messages in a visually interesting and stimulating way. A easy to use antenna is also available.
Details of all the support materials plus information about where to obtain the receivers, antennas and software can be found at funcube.org.uk/education-outreach/
The satellites also carry a materials science experiment, from which the school students can receive telemetry data and which they can compare to the results they obtained from similar reference experiments in the classroom. FUNcube is the first CubeSat project that benefits this group.
The FUNcube team is also involved with:
FUNcube-3 (EO79) – a fast-track mission to provide a “transponder only” payload on a 2U CubeSat which is part of the precursor programme for the QB50 mission. This transponder is expected to become operational after approximately 12 months of science activity. This spacecraft was safely launched on a DNEPR on June 19th 2014 and commissioning is presently underway. The transponder has now been succesfully tested in space and this mission has the OSCAR designation of European OSCAR 79 or EO-79.
FUNcube on Nayif-1 – Nayif-1 is a 1U Cubesat project being developed by the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) in partnership with students at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) This mission is intended to provide Emirati students with a tool to design and test systems in space. It will carry a complete, and enhanced, FUNcube communications package to provide educational outreach telemetry and an amateur transponder. The FUNcube team is working closely with the Emirati students, in collaboration with support partner, ISIS – Innovative Solutions In Space B.V. from the Netherlands, to develop this new system in time for the launch which is now scheduled to take place during the first half of 2016.
FUNcube “x” – a payload on the ESEO mission. ESEO is a 20kg class microsat which incorporates experimental payloads from a number of universities around Europe. The FUNcube payload will provide similar telemetry to its predecessors but will have a more powerful transmitter and thus be even easier to hear. For amateurs, this payload will also provide a single channel L/V transponder for FM. These downlinks will be transmitted on 145.930MHz and the uplink will be on 1263.5 MHz. The ESEO project is being funded by the ESA Education Office. The launch date for this mission has not yet been confirmed.
AMSAT-UK has more than 450 individual members and is one of more than 20 such groups worldwide. AMSAT-UK teams have provided hardware for more than 10 satellites over the past 35+ years.
The FUNcube project has been partially funded by The Radio Communications Foundation. This is a Registered Charity (Number 1100694) set up in 2003 to fund efforts to bring the wonders of radio into the classrooms, universities and any other public place where hands on demonstration can influence understanding. Visit www.commsfoundation.org/
FUNcube contact: Graham Shirville G3VZV email g.shirville at btinternet.com