Things are really starting to happen now. Nanoracks recently posted a picture of SkyCube and five other satellites integrated into the CubeSat deployer that will be launched to ISS next month:
After all the work that went into it, we were really excited to see this picture. (Hint: SkyCube is the only 1U CubeSat in this picture with deployable solar panels.)
Meanwhile, Down Under...
SkyCube's twin, "Omega", is in Sydney, Australia right now. The good folks at Saber Astronautics are working with Omega to make it talk to their ground station. Having a ground station on the other side of the world from the US increases SkyCube's availability on orbit by 50%.
News flash: we just got this email from Sydney a few minutes ago:
We have successfully communicated with the satellite radio, and we have successfully tested receiving with our radio, demodulating the broadcast, and removing the AX.25 framing, so we have the AES encrypted blob at the end. (We can confirm that the receipt is byte-for-byte correct by comparison with the C2RadioTest tool).
ORS-3: The Warmup Launch
Two days from now, a Minotaur rocket will launch from the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia. This mission is named ORS-3, and it will carry 28 CubeSats into orbit. It's a "warmup" for our launch in December. Two of those cubesats will utliize the same C2 radio onboard SkyCube. For more information about this "preview" launch, click here.
We're looking forward to our own launch in December! Right now, it's scheduled for the evening of December 15th. It'll be a night launch. If you're almost anywhere on the east coast of the USA, you should be able to see it (weather permitting).
Here's a photo of the LADEE launch from Wallops in September, taken from New York City:
If all goes as planned, the Cygnus cargo craft carrying SkyCube will dock at the ISS 3 days later. Then, sometime between January and June, 2014, SkyCube will be kicked off the ISS into its own orbit. After that point, you'll be able to submit your real tweets from space and image requests via mobile app and web site. We don't know the timing of SkyCube's deployment from ISS yet - that's why Satellite Safari doesn't contain these functions now. We'll release them in the app when the satellite is actually able to deliver them from orbit.
We're as ready to see this happen as you are, and we'll keep you posted. Fingers crossed for a successful launch from Wallops on Tuesday - and again in December.
-Tim, Scott, Rouslan, Mark, Robert, and the rest of Team SkyCube