UENR-EORIC SUPPORTS LAUNCH OF U.S AIR FORCE ACADEMY SATELLITE
December 4, 2018
The Earth Observation Research & Innovation Centre (EORIC) of the University of Energy & Natural Resources (UENR) together with its partner, ATLAS Space Operations, supported the United States Air Force Academy’s (USAFA) FalconSat-6 satellite which was launched out of Vandenberg, California, USA on Monday December 3, 2018. The satellite was launched on the Spaceflight Industries SSO-A SmallSat Express mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 18:32UTC.
The launch was originally scheduled to take place on Monday, 19th November 2018 but was delayed. According to SpaceX, additional pre-flight inspections needed to be conducted. It was then rescheduled to Wednesday, 28th November 2018 but needed to be delayed once more due to a low-pressure weather system moving through the Vandenberg area with excessive high-altitude winds.
The 3.0m S-Band ground station located at the University of Energy & Natural Resources, Sunyani, Ghana provided uplink and downlink communications services. The Ghana ground station provided a successful first contact (Tracking, Telemetry & Control) for the FalconSat-6 mission at around 21:09 UTC after the launch. FalconSat-6 will subsequently be utilizing this antenna, located at the Earth Observation Research & Innovation Centre, for up to 4 contacts per day.
Being a historic event for Ghana and the University with regard to space activities in Ghana and Africa, EORIC-UENR organized a live broadcast of the event for the university community and other interested individuals. The event was in two parts;
The first part of the broadcast showed SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying onboard the FalconSat-6 and other satellites being launched. Nana Ekow Nkwa Sey of EORIC, explained the launch sequence and what was to be expected during the live broadcast of the rocket launch to the viewers and discussed briefly FalconSat-6 and the role EORIC-UENR was playing in the event. This was an interesting moment for some individuals who were witnessing such an event for the very first time.
The Head of the Centre, Dr. Mark Amo-Boateng, emphasized on the importance of the event stating that it proved the capacity of Ghana to perform its own Satellite tracking and telemetry control while Mr. Evans Yaw Adom touched on the benefits it had for Ghana and the layman.
The second part of the event which was the historic moment for the EORIC, UENR and Ghana was when the ground station in the University, successfully established communication link with the satellite for Tracking, Telemetry and Command (TT&C). Those who were able to stay on around 21:09 UTC witnessed the 3.0m S-Band ground station located at the University tracking the satellite.
FalconSat-6 is the USAF Academy’s (USAFA) capstone undergraduate systems engineering course managed by the Department of Astronautics. Realizing the department’s motto, “learning space by doing space,” a student (cadet) team acts as a satellite system integrating contractor. The spacecraft bus, with all the supporting subsystems, is designed, built, and tested to meet the requirements of real-world Department of Defense (DoD) payload and mission requirements.
The satellite is expected to stay operational on orbit for at least one year and will provide hands-on learning for spacecraft engineering and operations for USAFA cadets. Along with maturing new space technologies such as solar arrays, propulsion and communications. This event is the first of its kind in Ghana and serves as a stepping stone for the Ghana Space sector in the area of Satellite Ground Support Services. Also, with this capacity, EORIC – UENR is in an ideal position to provide similar support for future satellite launch missions by Ghana and other countries. About ATLAS Space Operations:
ATLAS Space Operations, listed by Morgan Stanley as a 2017 Top 12 disruptor in the satellite industry, is a ground-to-space communications service provider. Employing a revolutionary approach to satellite communications driven by new thinking and new technology, ATLAS brings more data down from space, faster, and more affordable than ever before. For more information on ATLAS, please visit www.atlasground.com.