Wednesday 19 November 2003

Latest on Fedsat

In the news:Fedsat before launch
Little Aussie Battler Defies Space Storm
Fedsat is now the longest-lasting satellite built in Australia and the first in the world to demonstrate self-healing computers that repair themselves after being damaged by radiation.
The recent Solar Storms have been just exactly what we would have wished for, in order to get the very best data.
It is one of the most complex satellites of its size ever built and the first microsatellite to operate communications in the Ka-band of the radio spectrum.
Which will mean nothing to most people, but let's just say that it may allow broadband Internet connectivity on city streets without hunting for "Hotspots" and the like. It's a first step anyway, a proof-of-principle.

The best news in the report is that they've been given another $2.75 million to keep it operational till 2005. Without an injection of funds, we would have had a satellite, but no-one listening to it. Which would have been a shame. As it is, they might need to ask for more come 2005, it looks like exceeding its design lifetime by quite a bit. In the words of the classics, "Verily, I Gloat.".

The Fedsat Site (Warning : HUGE picture) has more on the code upload I reported on earlier
Fedsat has now been operating for almost 12 months and recently underwent a "maintenance service". This health check occurred over a 4 week period during September and October 2003. CRCSS staff are pleased with the results of the exercise and look forward to continuing the successful operation of the satellite. For example, some degradation had recently been noticed in a direction sensor. This was causing occasional minor wobbles in the satellite - the problem has now been bypassed by changing the control algorithm which uses that sensor. During the 4 week upgrade several "code patches" were sent to the FedSat computer to address this, and other, issues. Another excellent outcome was that new program code was successfully uploaded to the communications payload for the first time.
That probably means they've had to modify the program in the ACS (Attitude Control System). Full marks to the people at Dynacon in Canada (who made it) for doing their bit (consuming the new code that was stored and relayed to them by one of the modules I programmed). That's a neat little ACS for microsats they have there. Well-behaved. Reliable. Plays nice. Easy to fix if something goes wrong.

And it appears we've received some sort of award while my attention was averted elsewhere.

The Engineer has some nice things to say about the HPCE (High Performance Computing Experiment), just one of the payloads on board.

But the news is not all good: unlike the tiny, 50 Kilo Fedsat, which is about the size of a TV-set, the Winnebago-sized multitonne ADEOS-II that was launched with it as the primary payload has been abandoned as a total loss after only 10 months of service.

No comments: