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A Russian rocket launched Friday carried South Korea’s Arirang-2 satellite into orbit. Officials said Friday that Arirang-2 had successfully separated from the rocket and deployed its solar panels.

The satellite will be used for disaster monitoring, mapping, resource probing and providing images for geographic information systems. The multi-spectral camera is capable of 1 meter resolution.

South Korea launched its first multipurpose satellite Arirang-1 in December 1999 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, aboard a Taurus rocket made by Orbital Sciences. Arirang-2 will be permanently placed on a 685-km orbit by the Russian rocket.

It took Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) seven years to build Arirang-2, at a cost of 263.2 billion won (US$276 million). With the launch of Arirang-2, South Korea has a total of nine satellites in space.

Japan will launch an intelligence-gathering satellite in early September to watch over secretive North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. It will be launched atop the domestically developed H2-A rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center (above), according to the space agency JAXA. It will be the third intelligence-gathering satellite Japan has launched.

Meanwhile, on July 12, a Russian Dnepr rocket lofted Bigelow’s inflatable Genesis I into orbit with NASA’s GeneBox, a miniature biolab, onboard. But another Dnepr launch was not so lucky.

Last week a Russian Dnepr rocket carrying 18 satellites crashed soon after lift-off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Here’s a movie of the launch (5.75MB WMV). Seventeen of the satellites were being launched for foreign customers, including the US and Italy.

A total of 14 CubeSat microsatellites built by 10 universities around the world were destroyed. Additional payloads reportedly included a pair of satellites dubbed JAEsats, as well as others called BelKA, Baumanets and UniSat 4.

CubeSats are built by students around the world. The four-inch wide, two-pound spacecraft were planned to orbit between 310 and 372 miles (500-600 kilometers) above Earth.

CubeSats were built by teams from the Universities of Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Hawaii, Montana State University, Cal Poly, Hankuk Aviation University in Korea, Nihon University in Japan, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and The Aerospace Corporation.

The CubeSat program – developed and run by officials at Cal Poly and Stanford University – offers opportunities for colleges and other low-budget groups to build miniature spacecraft for roughly $40,000.

Customers then deliver their completed CubeSat satellites to integration teams at Cal Poly, who load them into their protective launch containers before shipping the payloads to the launch site.

The project currently consists of over 40 universities, high schools, and private companies, according to its web site.

The next CubeSat launch is scheduled for this fall.

A Software Defined Radio GNU software), can integrate many different telemetry bands using software. The Portland State Aerospace Society (below and right) was at OSCON this week, demonstrating their open source software defined radio for telemetry (DailyWireless MP3 interview).


They decided that the first step towards orbiting nanosatellites is to develop an inexpensive, highly modular and actively guided sounding rocket.

Their Avionics Team used the following RF telemetry gear:

  • WiFi (ARRL 802.11b telemetry): 2.412 GHz +/- 15 MHz
  • GPS: 1.57542 GHz +/- 5 MHz, 1.575 GHz Preamp
  • ATV (Amateur TV downlink): 1.25325 GHz +/- 15 MHz with a 1.25325 GHz ATV exciter (“transmitter”)
  • A 2 meter Ham 146.43 MHz uplink radio receiver

Sounding rockets are small to medium-sized rockets that are “suborbital” – meaning they can reach extreme altitudes, but then fall down back to the Earth.

Which their LV2.2 rocket did last summer in Brothers, Oregon.

NASA Ames may become the West Coast ‘space portal’ for affordable small satellites, but West Texas is where you want to be if you’re a dotcom billionaire like Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), Paul Allen (Scaled Composites), John Carmack (Armadillo Aerospace) or Elon Musk (SpaceX).

The list of private spaceflight companies keeps growing.

Perhaps it’s useful to think of a LEO Constellation as a city cloud in the sky.

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