CubeSat Ground Station

Some questions are out of left field. Then there’s this…

Dear Mr. Joseph Swanson,

My name is Marco Gomez and I am project manager of a CubeSat project that is being developed in Costa Rica. We are currently working on the ground station design, among other things, and are thinking whether to use an omnidirectional antenna for the ground station. Our plan is to use a similar setup as to what is described in the paper attached to this email about the MEROPE ground station. It consists of an M2 eggbeater antenna and a Kenwood TS-2000 radio working on UHF for uplink and downlink (we are using a half-duplex system). Additionally, the spacecraft will be launched from the ISS, so we are assuming a 400 km altitude circular orbit for our analysis.

I am contacting you because I read that you worked on the ground station design and wanted to know if this setup worked. Any comments about the design and operations will be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Best regards,

Ing. Marco Gómez Jenkins
Irazú Project Manager
Asociación Centroamericana de Aeronáutica y del Espacio (ACAE)
+506 7058 3848

… so naturally

Hey Marco,

I haven’t attempted satellite communications for roughly 15 years, but presumably the MEROPE ground station setup would still be a viable option for CubeSat tracking. The antenna technology is probably the same, so ensure you pair an excellent radio (Kenwoods were great around 2000) with whichever tracking software you employ.

The CubeSat I did the research for blew the hell up over Kazakhstan in 2006… I had graduated and was no longer working for SSEL. I hope your payload finds orbit.

Good luck…Joe

Hope they make it.. if the ISS ends up in pieces over Kazakhstan like the Dnepr carrying MEROPE, we’ve got some bigger fish to fry. I tracked down a link to an article to find out when this was… turns out the flight was delayed five years. Ouch.