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AMSAT GOLF-TEE update from AMSAT-NA

An update of GOLF-TEE project from AMSAT-NA ANS-030:

AMSAT’s GOLF-TEE CubeSat de-manifested from launch on ELaNa-46 NASA has de-manifested GOLF-TEE from the ELaNa-46 mission at the request of AMSAT. ELaNa-46 was expected to launch no earlier than 2022. COVID-related restrictions and supply chain disruptions, affecting both AMSAT’s vendors and team, have put AMSAT’s ability to meet the mission integration timeline at high risk.

AMSAT Vice-President Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, described some of the reasons for this decision:
• AMSAT finds itself in a similar situation to what other payloads and space-industry providers are experiencing. The worldwide pandemic and supply chain shortages are threatening everyone’s ability to properly and successfully deliver for launches.
• Out of respect for NASA, the launch provider, and other payloads, it is important to withdraw now, rather than later or, even worst, missing a launch integration deadline, which has possible financial penalty implications.
• GOLF-TEE and GOLF-1 have both been selected to participate in NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative program, and NASA will continue to look for another launch for GOLF-TEE.

AMSAT’s GOLF program plays an important role in AMSAT’s return to highly elliptical orbits. In addition to proving the maneuverability capabilities required by current and proposed orbital debris regulations, the GOLF program will work through a series of increasingly capable spacecraft to develop skills and learn systems for which we do not yet have the necessary low-risk experience. Among these are active attitude control, deployable/steerable solar panels, radiation tolerance for Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) components in higher orbits, and propulsion.

The TEE designation in GOLF-TEE stands for “Technology Exploration Environment” and reflects GOLF-TEE’s mission goal to test two critical systems needed for higher orbits. The first is an Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) that will allow active pointing of high gain satellite antennas, provide accurate attitude adjustments in future missions with maneuverability systems, and allow pointing the fixed solar panel array for best solar power in any given orbit type. The second is the Radiation-Tolerant Integrated Housekeeping Unit (RTIHU), which will allow AMSAT to gain initial orbit and space radiation exposure for radiation event-induced fault tolerant systems designed using COTS components. GOLF-TEE’s RTIHU includes a command transceiver, and its design is based on the Hercules line of ARM architecture-based microcontrollers.

GOLF-TEE will also evaluate a low-cost, deployable, fixed attitude, solar panel array design as part of AMSAT Engineering’s exploration of fixed panel arrays that allow for outfitting a variable number of “wings” in order to best match the power requirements of various CubeSat missions. Additionally, GOLF-TEE will carry a modified Ettus E310 commercial software-defined radio (SDR), as an experimental package, to test the high speed data downlink in the 10 GHz band and a parrot V/x mode linear transponder to provide users with an opportunity to experiment with the 10 GHz microwave downlink. GOLF-TEE will also carry a legacy V/u linear transponder.

GOLF-1 will build on technology and lessons learned from the GOLF-TEE mission; however, it will be a return to STEM-based educational missions, including hosted student radiation and imaging experiments in collaboration with AMSAT’s educational partners. GOLF-1 will require a more comprehensive de-orbiting plan and hardware that are in compliance with NASA’s NPR 8715.6 NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris in order to be manifested on an ELaNa launch to the high altitude AMSAT is seeking.

A significant amount of funding is necessary to complete the development and construction of the GOLF series of CubeSats. Please consider a donation today. Donations designated for the AMSAT GOLF program may be made at https://www.amsat.org/donations/amsat-golf-program-donations/

[ANS thanks Robert Bankston, KE4AL, President AMSAT for the above information]

By SM0TGU

Webmaster and member of the AMSAT-SM steering group.

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