AMSAT Says Husky-1 CubeSat Project Helped Pave the Way for Future Missions


AMSAT Vice President of Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, said that while it was disappointing that the amateur transponder on HuskySat-1 (HO-107) was not available any longer, following the satellite’s science missions, the overall HuskySat-1 project and mission “were quite beneficial for our partner and for AMSAT.” The linear transponder module (LTM) on HuskySat-1 was operational for more than 3 months, failing during or just after a period of full sun when LTM temperatures topped 80 °C (176 °F). HuskySat-1 was the first CubeSat from the Husky Satellite Lab at the University of Washington and the first mission with AMSAT’s LTM V/u transponder on board. University researchers conducted their work using an FCC Part 5 Experimental license.

“The HuskySat-1 team was able to command their satellite and experiments and receive the telemetry they sought, and AMSAT was able to work through the extensive process of making a new design for a ‘black box’ radio module that can be integrated into a non-AMSAT spacecraft and fly in the space environment,” Buxton said in a recent post to the AMSAT-BB reflector. “While licensed and operated as an amateur radio satellite by AMSAT during the transponder use, some facts set HO-107 apart from our Fox-1 CubeSats and other AMSAT satellites,” Buxton explained, pointing out that HuskySat-1 was not an AMSAT satellite.

“We have no control and may not have any insight into how a partner actually uses the LTM,” he said. “While we see the LTM temperatures and many of the other typical data fields that we downlink to FoxTelem regarding LTM health, data such as temperature of the host environment as well as other specific information like power and the state of the other systems in a host satellite may or may not be available to us. Whether LTM is operated within design limits is entirely up to the host.”

Buxton said the HuskySat team and AMSAT cooperated smoothly on the mission. He said the HuskySat-1 team is processing and studying its data for use in their thesis and classes and preparing it for release “in a specific way typical of such an institution today,” he said. “AMSAT is generally more forthcoming with information about our missions, but what we can and have said about this mission is determined by UW.”

Buxton said the LTM concept is now becoming available for other non-AMSAT CubeSats to fly amateur radio on their mission.

“HO-107 is the pilot production of LTM and was developed in partnership with UW HuskySat-1,” Buxton explained. “It was the first CubeSat radio module designed and built by AMSAT for use in other host CubeSats, and UW was key in working with us through the design and processes needed to provide such a module. They did not buy it as such, nor did we give it to them as an ‘off-the-shelf’ product, as we plan to for future LTM production.”

LTM was developed from the Fox-1E linear transponder design. “Overall, the HuskySat-1 team was quite happy with the telemetry and command performance, even with the LTM anomalies showing up toward the end of their experiments,” Buxton said. “In the process of getting HuskySat-1 to orbit several students became interested in amateur radio, and we have already had preliminary discussions of future joint mission plans.”

“There is no doubt that HO-107 was a success in many ways beyond the operational life of the transponder,” Buxton added. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service

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