ARSPEX working group




Annual activity report        April 6th 2017




ARISS is one of the leading promomtion of radioamateurism towards general public.

Indeed, each contact targets over one hundred persons directly (students, teachers, parents) but also several thousands through press and broadcast coverage.

Tim Peake’s mission in the first half of 2016 had extensive support by the british Space Agency, which generated a unique program involving the radioamateur community:

RSBG & AMSAT-UK have provided much support and energy for those project.


The new school selection procedure has proven successful – all planned school contacts have been realised within the expected time frame of less than 18 month. The application windows are therefore opened twice a year (september-november and february-april) and retained schools can now expect to have their contact become reality.


HAM-TV ground network has been extended within Europe: there are now 6 groundstations capable to receive ISS and feed the videostream over Internet. The BATC has written a software to reassemble the different streams and create one single video.

Jean-Pierre Courjaud F6DZP wrote dedicated software “TuTioune” for the reception of HamVideo signals This software compensates the “undocumented feature” that made the D-ATV stream transmitted from ISS incompatible with standard set-top botxes. He also makes available a kit formed by RF-tuner module and a Raspberry-Pi to build a HAM-TV ground station.

Outside of Europe there is already two HAM-TV groundstations in Australia, and an attempt is done to promote HAM-TV in northern-America.

ISS is transmitting most times “blind-images” (so black images, but full bit-stream) so that groundstations can test and calibrate their equipment. Transmitter is turned off only during EVAs and resupply dockings.

There are projects to build a new D-ATV transmitter – a fundrasing will be started similar to the one for the patch antennas for Columbus.


After breakdown of the 2m transmitter in the Columbus module, a new 2m trasnmitter is currently in certification and will be sent up to replace the defective unit. Until then the contacts are performed either via the station in the russian module or in Columbus using the 70cm transmitter.


ISS operates under several callsigns during ARISS contacts:



Cubesat projects


The interest of universities and science institutes for CubeSats is growing tremendously. Even commercial operators start looking into that business.


The QB-50 project is now reaching its final stages before launch:

There are 36 satellites retained for the project.

All 36 satellites are ready and have been integrated.

28 satellites have been selected to be deployed from ISS. The transport towards ISS was initially due March 18th 2017 by an Atlas-V launcher from Cape Canaveral. Due to hydrolics issues the launch has been resceduled. As fo today the launch is due April 18th 2017. The deployment into space will be done through the cubesat deployer in the japanese Kibo module, initialy scheduled in 3 batches end of april – early may 2017. The current planning will slightly shift, but we can expect that all 28 sattelites will be in space by june 2017

8 satellites will be launched with an PSLV flight from India. Launch date has not yet been confirmed, but is scheduled early May 2017 into a polar orbit with 500 km altitude.

One extra satellite (QuarmanCube) will be launched later. This satellite has been designed to survive reentry and performe its science mission up to 40km where it will access the Iridium network to upload the science data before hitting the surface.

All QB-50 satellites have been coordinated through the IARU satellite coordination board and have been filed to the ITU. It is a “first” that 30 of the satellites have been filed in one single notification procedure through Belgium, and all those satteilites have received a unique belgian callsign!


One interesting HAM project around QB-50 is the assistance of early discrimination. Indeed, the TLEs provided by NORAD will be very coarse in the beginning and the objects will just be identified by the observation sequence. Some HAM stations will attempt to identify the objects using TLM and Doppler-shift instead.


QB50p1 (EO-79) and QB50p2 (EO-80) have finally been handed over to the amateur community and the linear/FM transponders are now available full-time.


Other Cubesats are also interesting for the amateur community:


After the successful launch of OUFTI-1 on April 25th 2016, its beacon stopped after 10 days and satellite is no longer responding. The team has now set up a project for OUFTI-2, maintaining its objective to put into space a DSTAR repeater. Another payload is an experiment designed and realised by a secondary school with students aged 16 to 18.

One strong point of this project is the collaboration of the amateur community and the university of Liège


SIMBA and PICASSO are two scientific missions planned into 3U-Cubesats.  Both projects have agreed to implement an radioamateur transponder. Additionally the GPS position of the on board receiver will be avaliable throught the telemetry and can be used to create corrections to NORAD predictions.


The W-Band beacon project supported by ESA’s ARTES programme has unfortunatelly be put on hold due to budgetary restrictions.



The ESA ground station facilities at Redu/Belgium is setting up a Cubesat Lab as part of the “Fly My Satellite” project by ESA Education. This lab will have white rooms and testing facilities for educational cubesat projects.





Using radioamateurism & space in STEM projects is a strong combination.


CanSat – a competition to build student satellites of the size of a softdrink can -  is extending more and more. ESA is supporting this project and is sponsoring the launch campaigns. Schools are encouraged to contact the local amateur community for the “RF” aspects; this has proven to be beneficial for the teams (it turns out that most science teachers don’t know the physics behind a Yagi antenna)


MySat – a “satellite” that sutdents construct during a SatCamp at the Euro Space Center – has been extremly successful in 2016. It will be reiterated and expanded in 2017

The project has been nick-named "MySat" as students will go home with "my satellite"!




73's Stefan ON6TI – chairman of ARSPEX WG