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Introduction

In 2009, a team of volunteer experts from AMSAT-UK, in collaboration with their colleagues in the Netherlands at AMSAT-NL started work on a new amateur satellite concept –The FUNcube Project

The initial plan was to design, build and launch a single spacecraft but further flight opportunities became available and the project now comprises of the following missions:SONY DSC

FUNcube-1 (AO73) is a complete educational 1U CubeSat with the goal of enthusing and educating young people about radio, space, physics and electronics. FUNcube-1, now registered as a Dutch spacecraft, was successfully launched from Russia on a DNEPR rocket on Nov 21st 2013 and, after more than three years in orbit, continues to perform well. More than 1000 stations, including many at schools and colleges around the world, have received and decoded the telemetry. Details of current operations and the telemetry available from FUNcube-1 can be seen at  http://warehouse.funcube.org.uk/ We also have a dedicated educational outreach page here  https://funcube.org.uk/education-outreach/ 

FUNcube-1 is in a Sun-Synchronous Low Earth Orbit approx 630km above the earth. In such an orbit a satellite passes over most locations approximately 3 times in the morning, and 3 in the evening, every day. This schedule allows the morning passes to be used for educational purposes and the evening passes for Amateur Radio communications. 

The satellite also carries a Materials Science Experiment, from which the school students can receive telemetry data and which they can compare to the results they obtained from similar reference experiments in the classroom.

FUNcube-1 also carries a UHF to VHF linear transponder with approx 300mW PEP output and which can be used by Radio Amateurs worldwide for SSB and CW communications.

Measuring just 10cm x 10cm x 10cm, and with a mass of less than 1kg, FUNcube-1 is the first spacecraft to have a primary mission of educational outreach to schools and the smallest ever satellite to carry a linear transponder for radio amateurs.

FUNcube-2 on UKube-1 is a follow-on project and comprises of a set of FUNcube boards that is flying as part of the separate UKube-1 triple cubesat and it has identical goals. This spacecraft was successfully launched on a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur on July 8th 2014. It has also now been in space for more than three years and both the telemetry downlink and transponder continue to be operational on a 24/7 basis.

FUNcube-5 (EO88) on Nayif-1 – Nayif-1 is a 1U Cubesat project that has been developed by the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) in partnership with students at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) This mission is intended to provide Emirati students with a tool to design and test systems in space.  It carries a complete, and enhanced, FUNcube communications package to provide educational outreach telemetry and an amateur transponder. Nayif-1 was successfully launched from India on Feb 15th 2017 together with 103 other spacecraft. Nayif-1  has functioned nominally since launch and has its own Data Warehouse which can be viewed here  http://data.amsat-uk.org/nayif1/index  More details can be found on the news pages

All of these missions are intended to support the educational Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) initiatives presently underway in the UK and around the world.

The target audience consists of primary and secondary school pupils and the FUNcubes feature a 145 MHz telemetry beacon that provides a strong signal for the pupils to receive.

A simple receiver has also been developed. The FUNcube Dongle connects to the USB port of a laptop to display telemetry and messages in a visually interesting and stimulating way. A easy to use antenna is also available.

Details of all the support materials plus information about where to obtain the receivers, antennas and software can be found at  https://funcube.org.uk/education-outreach/

The FUNcube team is presently working on:

FUNcube-4 – a payload on the ESEO mission. ESEO is a 20kg class microsat which incorporates experimental payloads from a number of universities around Europe. The UntitledFUNcube payload will provide similar telemetry to its predecessors but will have a more powerful transmitter and thus be even easier to hear. For amateurs, this payload will also provide a single channel L/V transponder for FM.  These downlinks will be transmitted on 145.895MHz and the uplink will be on 1263.5 MHz with a 67Hz PLL tone required. The ESEO project is being funded by the ESA Education Office. The launch date for this mission has not yet been confirmed but “early 2018” is now looking possible.

JY1SAT  – a 1U CubeSat which is being developed in collaboration with the Masar initiative of the Crown Prince Foundation in Jordan. It will have the new enhanced  RF subsystems and active attitude control. In addition to the usual suite of FUNcube capabilities it should also be capable of of downlinking images in a new digital format. A launch in 2018 is planned on a Falcon 9 LV.

AMSAT-UK has more than 450 individual members and is one of more than 20 such groups worldwide.

AMSAT-UK teams have provided hardware for more than 12 satellites over the past 35+ years.

The FUNcube project has been partially funded by The Radio Communications Foundation. This is a Registered Charity (Number 1100694) set up in 2003 to fund efforts to bring the wonders of radio into the classrooms, universities and any other public place where hands on demonstration can influence understanding. Visit http://www.commsfoundation.org/

FUNcube contact: Graham Shirville G3VZV email g.shirville at btinternet.com