The ARRL Letter, October 30, 2014


Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio Payloads Among Those Lost in Launch Explosion

The RACE and GOMX-2 CubeSats, both carrying Amateur Radio payloads, were among more than 2 dozen satellites lost after an unmanned Orbital Space Sciences (OSC) Antares 130 vehicle exploded spectacularly shortly after launch at 2222 UTC on Tuesday, October 28, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The Antares is a new medium-class launch vehicle developed by OSC. The rocket exploded about 6 seconds after launch, sending a huge ball of fire hurtling toward the ground and igniting a massive fire at the NASA launch site.

“While NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today, we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap,” said William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate. “The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies.” Indeed, a smaller resupply mission, launched from Russia, reached the ISS the next day.

The Radiometer Atmospheric Cubesat Experiment (RACE) CubeSat was a joint project of The Texas Spacecraft Laboratory (TSL) at the University of Texas-Austin and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Built by a 30-student team, it carried a 183 GHz radiometer, a new science instrument designed by JPL. The spacecraft was equipped to transmit using GMSK at 38.4 k and CW telemetry on a downlink frequency of 437.525MHz.

TSL’s Glenn Lightsey, KE5DDG, a UT engineering professor, oversaw the student project that worked hand-in-hand with NASA staff in creating a satellite that aimed to measure water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere.

“It’s unfortunate, but it is also part of the aerospace industry,” Lightsey told the Texas Statesman newspaper. “The nature of building space vehicles is that it is not a 100 percent reliable process. Getting into space is really the hardest part.”

The 2U GOMX-2 CubeSat was intended to test a de-orbit system designed by Aalborg University in Denmark. Karl Klaus Laursen, OZ2KK, is listed as the “responsible operator” on International Amateur Radio Union frequency coordination documents. The Amateur Radio payload proposed using a 9.6 k MSK data downlink on 437.250 MHz. Also on board was an optical communications experiment from the National University of Singapore. The mission also aimed to flight qualify a new high-speed UHF transceiver and SDR receiver built by an Aalborg University team.

The Antares 130 resupply mission was carrying some 5000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station. The Antares 130 also was carrying the Flock-1d array of 26 satellites as well as Arkyd-3 and Cygnus CRS-3. RACE, GOMX-2, and the other satellites were to be launched into orbit from the ISS later.

via The ARRL Letter, October 30, 2014.

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Here’s more information on the launch pad explosion that destroyed an Orbital Space Services Antares 130 rocket.  Although no human casualties were reported, several amateur radio CubeSats were lost, including RACE and GOMX-2.  The Antares vehicle was also carrying supplies for the International Space Station.

For the latest Amateur Radio news and events, please check out the blog sidebars. These news feeds are updated daily.

Thanks for joining us today!

Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM).

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