Launch of 200 sprite Satellites

Launch of Two Hundred 437MHz Satellites


The largest ever launch of 437 MHz satellites is planned for March 16 at 0841 UTC when 200 Sprite satellites will fly on the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS 3 mission to be deployed into a 325×315 km 51.5 degree inclination orbit. You should be able to watch the launch live on NASA TV.

kicksat-437-mhz-sprite-satelliteSprite is a tiny, 3.5 by 3.5 cm, single-board spacecraft that was developed by Zac Manchester KD2BHC. Among those involved  in the early days of the project was UK radio amateur Michael Johnson M0MJJ. While a visiting scientist at Cornell University he was the first project manager designing the mission and KickStarter campaign.

Each Sprite has a microcontroller, radio, and solar cells and is capable of carrying single-chip sensors, such as thermometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and accelerometers.

The 200 Sprites are carried in a 3U CubeSat called KickSat. They are stacked atop a spring-loaded pusher and secured by a nichrome burn wire system.

On reaching orbit KickSat will perform a de-tumble maneuver and establish communication with Cornell University’s ground station. After check-out, the spacecraft will be put in a sun-pointing attitude and spun up to maintain that attitude.

A command signal from the ground station will then trigger the deployment and the Sprites will be released as free-flying spacecraft. After deployment, telemetry and sensor measurements from the individual Sprites will be received through Cornell’s ground station in Ithaca, NY, as well as several other amateur ground stations around the world.

Due to the low orbit Sprites will have a short lifetime before they reenter the atmosphere and burn up. In the best-case scenario the orbital lifetime could be six weeks but realistically it may be considerably shorter depending on atmospheric conditions.

All Sprites operate on a single frequency of 437.240 MHz and use Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). The transmitter runs 10 mW output of Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) modulated binary data with each data bit modulated as a 511 bit Pseudo-Random Number (PRN) sequence.

The ITU emission designator is 50K0G1D.

The KickSat CubeSat has downlinks on 437.505 MHz and 2401-2436.2 MHz.

Watch KickSat Sprite Deployment

KickSat Sprite Ground Station by Andy Thomas G0SFJ

[PE0SAT Thanks Amsat-UK for the above information]