Thursday, December 07, 2006

STS-116 to launch USNA/DARPA satellites

Pretty much overshadowed by the main mission to the ISS, STS-116 will launch two U.S. Naval Academy Student Project satellites after undocking from the ISS. These satellites are called ANDE (Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment) and RAFT (Radar Fence Transponder). I have profiled the RAFT previously on this blog.

The NRL science mission of ANDE is to measure the density of the upper atmosphere by precise tracking of the orbit decay by the Maui Laser Ranging Tracking Station. The Comm system provides important telemetry on the attitude and temperature of the spacecraft. The ANDE and RAFT satellites will carry amateur radio communications payloads (see frequencies below), but RAFT has something a bit extra.

RAFT carries a 216.980 MHz receiver/transmitter to demonstrate self-location techniques when it flies through the Space Surveillance Network radar fence across the southern USA. When this experiment is activated, users will hear a 1 second ping when it flies through the fence. This is an excellent way to see how sensitive your radio installation is.

Amateur Payloads:

ANDE Side A: 145.825 MHz Digipeater up/downlink 1200 baud packet

ANDE Side B: 145.825 MHz downlink (backup to side A only)

RAFT System: 145.825 MHz Digipeater up/downlink 1200 baud packet

RAFT PSK-31: 28.120 MHz HF PSK-31 uplink -downlink on 145.825 MHz

You can get more information on these satellites at the following links:

ANDE/RAFT Space Operations

ANDE (MAA) - Telemetry/Command and Comms

RAFT Satellite Project

The MARScom satellite is suppose to launch with this mission, but nothing hs been mentioned in any of the official STS-116 paperwork about that Cubesat. While its mission fate is unknown as of this writing, according to a 13 October 2006 Chief of NAVMARCORPSMARS message
the satellite is at KSC and ready for launch.

You can view my complete description of the RAFT and MARScom payloads at
MEMS-Based PICOSAT Inspector (MEPSI)