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AO-51 tests planned 2-26 and 27

February 26 and possibly February 27 during the local AM passes over
Colorado the AO-51 U band voice transmitter will be off and the S
band will be on in digital mode at 38k4 and 78k4.  These mode changes 
are to facilitate the testing of the US Air Force Academy
satellite ground station in preparation for the launch of Falconsat-3.

Falconsat-3 (FS-3) is another in the series of satellites built at the 
US Air Force Academy.  It is presently scheduled to launch March 8 from 
Cape Canaveral on an Atlas-V (mission STP-01).  USAFA Space Systems 
Research Center satellites are science oriented and university class. 
FS-3 carries two space weather plasma detection experiments along with a 
micro pulse plasma thruster attitude control experiment.  The objectives 
of the program are to do real science and educate USAFA cadets about 
space systems design, construction, testing, and operations.  About 40 
senior cadets are in the program each year.  Falconsats are operated 
from the ground station at USAFA near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Once in orbit FS-3’s mission is to collect data from its experiments and 
provide cadets in the Space Operations major an actual space ops 
experience.  Additionally Astronautics major cadets will analyze 
telemetry and make operations decisions.  FS-3 will perform its primary 
mission on DOD frequencies with a downlink at 2.220 GHz.  Modulation is 
GMSK at 38k4 or 76k8 bps.  All transmissions are in the clear and are 
AX.25.  Additionally FS-3 carries an Amateur transmitter and receiver 
with a downlink at 435.100 Mhz.  Modulation is GMSK at 9k6 with faster 
bit rates available.  The Amateur uplink is in VHF and the frequency 
will be made available when FS-3 reverts to Amateur mode.

After the primary science mission is completed the satellite will be 
transferred to the USAFA Amateur Radio Club and operated as an Amateur 
satellite.  It can function much like AO-51 in either an FM voice or 
digital store and forward configurations.  During the first few weeks on 
orbit FS-3 will be commissioned, which includes uploading software and 
testing all functions. During that time the Amateur payload will be 

The primary avionics in FS-3 are from SpaceQuest with additional modules 
built by cadets and faculty at USAFA and contractors.  Software modules 
are from BekTek, SSTL, and Colorado Satellite Services, with additional 
software by cadets and faculty at USAFA.  The satellite is ‘ESPA class’. 
The basic structure is a cube about 24” on a side.  There is a 3 meter 
gravity gradient boom that will be extended from the ‘top’ on orbit.  On 
the ‘bottom’ are the pulse plasma thrusters and various antennas 
including an array of S band patch antennas provided by S&L Technologies 
of Orlando along with omni antennas for S, V and U bands.

The USAFA ground station consists of two complete units with individual 
masts on the roof of the classroom annex building.  Antennas include 6’ 
and 10’ dishes and Yagis.  Rotators are the heavy duty MT-3000 and 
MT-1000 from M2.

The first USAFA satellite, Falcon Gold, went into GTO and measured the 
strength of GPS signals from well above the constellation.  The results 
showed signal levels were adequate to warrant further experiments and in 
part lead to the GPS experiment on AO-40 and other satellites. 
Falconsat 4 and 5 are in the design stages now.  Each is expected to 
carry an Amateur transmitter and receiver in addition to their primary 

After launch reception reports will be appreciated.  Reports may be sent to:

Jim White

Sent via AMSAT-BB@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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