FASTRAC is launching this Month!!!
November 2, 2010
S. Munoz and E. Ferguson
The FASTRAC team is excited to announce that the FASTRAC satellites will launch into space this month on November 19th! This launch marks the culmination of seven years of dedicated work by over 120 University of Texas students.
Currently, the FASTRAC satellites are awaiting countdown alongside five other satellites, all of which have been recently mated to a Minotaur IV rocket located at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Kodiak, Alaska. These spacecraft make up STP-S26, a mission executed by the Department of Defense Space Test Program whose goal is to provide access to space for small satellites and experimental payloads. On launch day, the FASTRAC satellites will be placed into a 650 km altitude, 72° inclination circular orbit so they can begin their mission to investigate technologies that facilitate the operation of multiple satellites in formation.
In preparation for the impending launch, the FASTRAC team has been busy expanding and improving several different areas of the mission. In one area, the team is continuing to put the final touches on the operational procedures of the mission by testing in the Aerospace Department’s radio ground station, aptly named the "Spacecraft Control Center". This testing has consisted of tracking other amateur satellites, establishing communications with them, and communicating through them to other ground stations. In addition, the team has been performing "FASTRAC Mission Operations" simulations with the FASTRAC Flatsat Electrical Testbeds in the Satellite Design Lab. As part of the operational procedures, the team has developed a set of configurable scripts to automate ground station passes with the FASTRAC satellites. These scripts will optimize the amount of data that can be downlinked from the satellites as well as reduce operator error.
On a separate front, the team has worked very hard to create a venue on the FASTRAC website for amateur radio operators. Here HAMs will be able to collaborate and track the FASTRAC satellites when they are in orbit. To facilitate the satellite tracking effort, HAMs will have access to the times for the next ten passes of the FASTRAC satellites above their location. Any data received from the satellites such as beacon messages can be uploaded to the website where the data will be automatically interpreted in graphical form. Through the website, members will also have the opportunity to communicate with the team and other collaborators from around the world.
Along with the creation of a section for amateur radio operators on the FASTRAC website, the team has been establishing a social media presence by creating Facebook and Twitter pages for FASTRAC and updating them regularly. Once the satellites are launched, the latest reported location of both FASTRAC satellites will be tweeted anytime someone tracks the satellites and uploads their beacon messages to the website. You can even set this up to work with your own cell phone if you want to receive tweets about the FASTRAC satellites!
For more information on the FASTRAC satellites please check out the Media Kit link on the website and check for updates on both the FASTRAC Satellites Facebook and Twitter pages!
December 1, 2011 - FASTRAC Digipeating Announcement by Sebastián Muñoz
March 9, 2011 - FASTRAC is Separating!! by Sebastian Muñoz
November 20, 2010 - FASTRAC Is In Orbit! by
November 19, 2010 - FASTRAC is launching Tonight!!!! by
November 2, 2010 - FASTRAC is launching this Month!!! by S. Munoz and E. Ferguson
April 19, 2010 - FASTRAC Ready to go into Space!! by Sebastian Munoz
June 26, 2008 - FASTRAC Satellites Get Updated Software, New Antennas by Stephen Clark
March 8, 2008 - FASTRAC Satellites to Set Up and Ship Out! by Eric Hagen
August 27, 2006 - Satellites Undergoing Testing at AFRL by Glenn Lightsey
June 25, 2006 - FASTRAC Satellites Leave Texas by Greg Holt
June 14, 2006 - FASTRAC Frequency Request Submitted by Glenn Lightsey
December 15, 2005 - FASTRAC Mission Receives Critical D.O.D. Ranking for Launch by Jamin Greenbaum
April 20, 2005 - FASTRAC Personnel Changes by Glenn Lightsey
January 11, 2005 - FASTRAC Victorious, Headed to Space! by Glenn Lightsey
January 7, 2005 - FASTRAC Headed to Nevada for Competition by Glenn Lightsey
January 3, 2005 - FASTRAC Satellite Completes Thermal/Vacuum Test by Glenn Lightsey
December 19, 2004 - Satellite Integration Nears Completion by Glenn Lightsey
December 7, 2004 - FASTRAC Thermal Vac Testing Progresses by Greg Holt
November 28, 2004 - Solar Cells See Sunlight by Greg Holt
July 27, 2004 - FASTRAC Separation Test aboard KC-135 a Success! by FASTRAC team
May 15, 2004 - Balloon Satellite by FASTRAC team