Stray Signals

AMSAT “GOLF” CubeSats among NASA Ninth-Round CubeSat Launch Initiative Picks


AMSAT reports that two of its “GOLF” (Greater Orbit, Larger Footprint) series CubeSats are among 21 missions recommended for NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). GOLF-TEE (Technology Evaluation Environment) and GOLF-1, were among the 21 missions recommended for selection. AMSAT now must negotiate and execute a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with NASA for each project, in order to finalize selection.

“The GOLF-TEE project tees off the next phase of our CubeSat program,” AMSAT Vice-President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, quipped. According to AMSAT, NASA anticipates a sufficient number of launch opportunities but does not guarantee that all recommended payloads will be launched. GOLF-TEE will also carry a Fox-1E design V/u linear transponder and RadFx (radiation effects) experiment for Vanderbilt University.

GOLF-TEE will serve as a low-Earth-orbit (LEO) testbed for technologies necessary for a successful CubeSat mission to a wide variety of orbits, AMSAT said. GOLF-TEE is aimed at providing AMSAT with the hardware and knowledge for attitude determination and control capability, and the opportunity to develop a 3U spaceframe with deployable solar panels suitable for LEO or high-Earth-orbit (HEO) missions, two of the major systems required in future GOLF and HEO missions.

GOLF-TEE allows for rapid deployment and on-orbit testing of AMSAT’s Advanced Satellite Communications and Exploration of New Technology (ASCENT), including radiation-tolerant transponder and integrated housekeeping unit technologies that will lead the way for low-cost, off-the-shelf commercial systems that can function in the medium Earth orbit (MEO) and HEO radiation environments.

GOLF-TEE and the GOLF program will provide for the development of “five and dime” field-programmable gate array software-defined radio (FPGA SDR) transponders for use on a variety of missions and orbits. The target GOLF-TEE launch date is in the final quarter of 2019.

GOLF-1 will serve as a follow-on mission; AMSAT has not yet specified its Amateur Radio payload. Launch is targeted for 2020 – 2021. The GOLF-1 CubeSat will require a de-orbiting plan that complies with NASA requirements for limiting orbital debris, due to the high altitude AMSAT has requested.

AMSAT-NA President Joe Spier, K6WAO, unveiled the GOLF program at AMSAT’s annual meeting last October as a crucial step toward fulfilling AMSAT’s strategic goals involving high-altitude, wide-access satellite missions. — Thanks to AMSAT News Service via Paul Stoetzer, N8HM


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