Tag Archives: satellites

CubeSats Launched from the ELaNa III

Last Friday (October 28, 1129 UT) there were 5 #CubeSats launched from the #ELaNa III initiative. From the current information available at least 4 out of the 5 have been heard:

  1. AubieSat-1: a few packets received (no exact number)
  2. DICE: no information available
  3. Explorer-1[PRIME]: 38 packets received (by Oct 29)
  4. M-Cubed: a few packets received (no exact number)
  5. RAX-2:  553 packets received (by Nov 2)

If you want to track these satellites in real time there are lots of free software out there that can do it for you (even online, like the live telemetry site for RAX-2 [6]). Anyway, I use Gpredict [7] on my Mac OS X. I’ve added the following video if someone wants to check how to do it:

The initial TLE’s can be found in [1] and the updated TLE’s from the Celestrack website [2]. According to Mike Rupprecht (DK3WN) then this is the current TLE identification for the satellites [3]:

GROUP 1 >> (E1P, MCubed and AubieSat-1 in no specific order)
1 37850U 11061B   11305.98797322  .00000485  00000-0  51357-4 0    93
2 37850 101.7040 237.8951 0255440 280.0726  77.1486 14.77487531   660
1 37851U 11061C   11306.80057483  .00008923  00000-0  73263-3 0    86
2 37851 101.7025 239.0741 0255576 278.0555  79.1717 14.77525972   786
1 37852U 11061D   11306.52971894  .00011164  00000-0  91731-3 0    66
2 37852 101.6977 238.6724 0254624 278.8801  78.3646 14.77522609   745


GROUP 2 >> probably RAX-2
1 37853U 11061E   11307.13900013  .00009578  00000-0  78690-3 0    76
2 37853 101.6966 239.5631 0254823 277.2407  79.9896 14.77577082   836


GROUP 3 >> (probably DICE-F and DICE-G)
1 37854U 11061F   11306.52898599  .00014110  00000-0  11481-2 0    87
2 37854 101.6996 238.6806 0254637 278.7716  78.4718 14.77753179   735
1 37855U 11061G   11307.07070361  .00017333  00000-0  13957-2 0    77
2 37855 101.7015 239.4659 0256550 276.9147  80.4614 14.77747674   818

For more information check the oficial web sites for these CubeSats:

  1. AubieSat-1
  2. DICE
  3. Explorer-1[PRIME]
  4. M-Cubed
  5. RAX-2


  1. ELaNa III TLEs
  2. ELaNa III TLEs from Celestrack (updated frequently)
  3. TLE lottery – RAX-2 is OBJECT E
  4. AMSAT: Amateur Radio CubeSats Launch
  5. Mike Rupprecht (DK3WN) blog
  6. Live telemetry site for RAX-2
  7. Gpredict (real-time satellite tracking and orbit prediction)




Phones in Space? Where is the frontier?

So, If I tell you that a satellite is pretty much a smartphone that orbits around the earth you will think that I am totally ‘banuts’. But my case is not totally lost. A satellite is basically a set of electronic components put together in a frame that communicates with a ground station. A smart phone is basically a set of electronic components put together in a frame that communicates with a ground station. Hum! Looks the same right? The big difference is that a satellite will normally orbit the earth, and a smartphone will orbit your head.

Ok, a bit more on my case. To be more technical I should add that a satellite usually has the following subsystems to operate:

  • A battery system to keep the electronics operable
  • A processing unit to do the necessary computations with the data
  • A telecommunications unit (radio + antenna) to transmit data to the grund station
  • Sensors for attitude determination
  • A payload to do cool stuff  (like a camera)

All of these are found to a certain degree on a smartphone. The cool thing is that a smartphone has more processing power than most satellites out there (yes, we’re still putting 133 MHz processors in space), it has more memory, it has a GPS, a camera and multi-axis sensors like accelerometers and gyros. Isn’t then a smart-phone a small satellite too? I say yes! …

Apparently the guys at NASA Ames also say yeah! and are doing something I think is totally COOL. They’re going to launch an Android (Nexus One) to space in the final quarter of this year (most likely in October). They have already launched it to suborbital space using a ballon, it went up to 100,000 ft (approx. 30 km) and they’ve done some rocket launches. There is a short documentary about the PhoneSat suborbital test launch. You can see the video here:

Also, check out some pictures they have out there: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/5479393514/

I think this case of the smartphone in space shows that the democratization of technology has reached the space exploration endeavor. Now it’s a matter of time to see what kind of technologies will go to space. Arduinos, Beagle Boards, Gumstix, cheap cameras, … ?

If you know of more projects like this drop me a note. 🙂

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