A New Zealand Amateur Satellite Project.


A little over two years ago AMSAT-ZL initiated a feasibility study into a small wholly New Zealand design and constructed satellite. The satellite, proposed for launch into Low Earth Orbit [LEO] would become one of the “OSCAR” [Orbiting Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio] series that are available for international use by amateur radio enthusiasts world-wide. More than 40 OSCARs have been successfully launched in an evolving program of increasing sophistication.

Spearheaded by Committee Member Fred Kennedy (ZL1BYP), the study concluded that such a project was possible and his requests for support and assistance identified expertise available and willing to undertake the work.  A way ahead was determined.

To enable the AMSAT-ZL membership to make realistic mission proposals it was decided that “size” would be the controlling factor and it was proposed in July 2001 that a satellite based on the early 1990's MicroSAT format – a 200mm sided cube – would be recommended for “KiwiSAT”.

The Committee supported this proposal. Now action and support from the Membership is needed to bring the project to fruition.

During ZL1BYP’s many presentations and demonstrations using a 100mm /1Kg “CubeSat” engineering mockup a number of volunteers came forward to help and now is the time for them to “firm up” on the offers made and start some positive action.   More are, of course, needed.

First and foremost is the decision on a mission. Although some proposals are held, as wide a view as possible is vital to ensure the satellite satisfies most, if not all, of those that will be asked to contribute financially and in particular those that provide the technical expertise and effort.  Apart from the obvious satellite communications role there will also be room on “KiwiSAT” for a small scientific package to increase our general knowledge of physics and/or space operations and technology. 

Your views and ideas of what to include are needed NOW!  This particular decision must be made IMMEDIATELY.

Whatever form the satellite takes it requires people that can design and build – or adapt existing equipment - in the fields of VHF, UHF (and Microwave?) transmitters and receivers, computer (PIC’s?) hardware and software, antenna systems, power supply systems using solar cells and batteries.   ADAC - Attitude Determination and Control is a subject all on its own and, depending on the mission to be flown, one which will require special attention and effort.

A fundamental requirement is the mechanical construction of the space frame along with its structural testing.   Whilst this is in the care of Fred (ZL1BYP), who has already invested heavily in time and effort on these over the past 2 years he cannot go it alone.  Help is needed.

There will be a need for project management expertise and, hand in hand with that, quality control systems that will be vital to satisfy the stringent quality demands of a launch authority once that stage is reached. 

Sponsorship from industry is important but this would require to be pursued and properly organised.

As one example Massey University in Auckland has already provided a seed grant and are making available vital facilities. Their funded and specially prepared “Vacuum Environmental Test Rig” provides – in small scale - space simulation capabilities of equal capability to those used in the pre flight proof testing of International Satellite Phase 3D (now AMSAT OSCAR 40)    

A number of other scientific centres of excellence within New Zealand have also offered test and calibration facilities and there is no doubt that more would follow suit if properly approached.
            The list goes on……….!

Without determination and personal effort from a dedicated group of people prepared to stay the distance, New Zealand may never be actively involved in space technology.

Be aware!  This is a ‘first’!

What can you offer and when could you start?

Contact any Committee Member - TODAY

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Last updated on 21/07/2002