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USNA Astronautics

Naval Academy Small Satellite Program - Historical Projects

Historical Projects

PCsat – Prototype Communications Satellite, PCsat was USNA’s first launch to space on 30 September 2001 from Kodiak Alaska.  PCsat provides two way hand-held APRS communications for students, and remote travelers in the Amateur Satellite Service.  It is the oldest surviving student built satellite in space.  See its downlink on:

Sapphire – USNA teamed with Stanford University and Washington University to launch, and operate their student built Sapphire satellite.  Sapphire also flew on the same Kodiak Star with PCsat.   Sapphire carried a number of experiments including a camera, a voice synthesizer and an infrared Earth Sensor and was later modified to support the APRS communications objectives of PCsat.

PCSAT2 -  was a follow-on to the PCsat mission and was launched to the ISS on 26 July 2005 and activated during an EVA on 3 Aug in an external “suitcase” installed by an Astronaut on a spacewalk.  It was opened to expose the solar cells and to activate our data transponder.  Not only did it support our communications experiments, but it also provided telemetry, command, and control needed to monitor the NRL’s Solar Cell experiment.  See

ANDE – The Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment was another PCsat follow-on payload  that  flew inside a Navy Research Lab sphere launched to study the density of the space atmosphere.  ANDE had no solar panels and used 112 “D” size Lithium cells.  No external antennas were allowed either, so we insulated the halves of the sphere and used the sphere as a dipole antenna.  See

RAFT/MARScom – The Radar Fence Transponder used two small 5” cube satellites to explore the Navy’s Space Surveillance  System while also supporting follow-on PCsat transponder type communications and also a voice synthesizer.  The second cube contained a transponder for the Military Affiliate Radio System (DoD Volunteer emergency communicators) called MARScom.   See’html

MIDSTAR – The largest USNA satellite had a number of minor payloads for the Space Test Program and operated  in S-Band.   It could only communicate with the USNA ground station and was our first and last large spacecraft. 

USS Langley – is a 3U Colony-1 CubeSat designed to provide a Linux based file server in space operating on S-band.  It launched on the ULTRA mission in the spring 2015.

BRICSat –  is a 1.5U CubeSat with thrusters from GW University to experiment with attitude control.  It also supports am Amateur Radio PSK31 multi-user text-messaging transponder like PSAT below.

PSAT – is a 1.5U CubeSat supporting the follow-on mission of the aging PCsat transponder and also scheduled on the ULTRA mission in the spring of 2015.   PSAT also carries an Amateur Radio PSK31multi-user transponder providing global text-messaging coverage.  See

QIKCOM-1 was designed during 2015 and launched to the ISS attached to the SIMPL spacecraft to be assembled by astronauts on orbit and then deployed by robot arm from the JAXS deployer.  SIMPL was deployed from the ISS in Oct 2017, but never activated.

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