Friday, September 18, 2009

SumbandilaSat satellite launched

SumbandilaSat was successfully launched on 17 September at 17:55:09 CAT (Central African Time) after the launch had to be postponed twice, once due to heavy winds and the second attempt due to the fuel pressure in the feed line which was four times too low and thus caused the fueling process to take too long to be completed in time for launch.

The satellite was released from the rocket while over the Antarctic and accessed by the ground station at the Stellenbosch University ten minutes later when the first command was sent to 'wake up' the satellites. Despite the low elevation orbit of less than 10 degrees SumbandilaSat responded well with its first telemetry.

Earlier in September a team of SunSpace Engineers unpacked the satellite at the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan and carried out a full systems test. All systems performed to specification. The amateur radio payload was tested from a little distance to check radio signal levels. All three systems, the voice beacon, the parrot repeater and the VHF/UHF FM repeater performed flawlessly.

Next SumbandilaSat was integrated on the launch platform and made ready for launch. Prior to the assembly being transported to the launch platform, the batteries were given their last top-up.

An intensive period of payload qualification will now follow during which each system will be tested. This is expected to take up to 3 months after which the command will shift to the CSIR’s Satellite Application Centre at Hartebeeshoek, north of Pretoria.

Southern African Amateur Radio Satellite Association (SA AMSAT).


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