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Space United States

CubeSat Launch Visible Around U.S. East Coast Tonight 34

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Brad Lendon reports at CNN that 29 satellites, the most ever launched at one time, will be aboard a single Minotaur I rocket scheduled to lift off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Tuesday night at 7:30 pm. The main payload will be the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3, plus 28 tiny satellites called CubeSats about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart. The cubesats will include Ho`oponopono-2 from the University of Hawaii to continue a long-existing radar calibration service for the 80 plus C-band radar tracking stations distributed around the world. It will also have CAPE-2 from the Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment, to give students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette the opportunity to research, design, develop, and maintain a low earth orbiting satellite, and SwampSat from the University of Florida to advance the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) of CMGs (Control Moment Gyroscopes) appropriate for smallsats. Among the CubeSats is the TJ3Sat, the first satellite made by high-schoolers to go into space, built by the students of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. It will give students and other amateur radio users the opportunity to send and receive data from the satellite. Approved text strings will be transmitted to the satellite, and the resulting voice interpretation will be relayed back to Earth over an amateur radio frequency using the onboard Stensat radio. Orbital says the 29 satellites should achieve orbit in a little less than 12½ minutes after the rocket ignites. NASA says the launch may be visible from northern Florida to southern Canada and as far west as Indiana. Live coverage of the launch is available via UStream beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day."
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CubeSat Launch Visible Around U.S. East Coast Tonight

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  • As of 18:46 EST they are at 1 hour and holding. Due to a problem with a downrange telemetry site.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @07:49PM (#45468491)
    look at the visibility map. 15 degrees of max altitude? that won't clear the treeline. but, i live out on the rural side. still, i'll look while killing a Bud.
  • I think TFS meant "litre"...

    • I think TFS meant "litre"...

      The cubes are 10 cm per side. So they could either say "about a quart" or "exactly a liter", and they chose the former.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @08:34PM (#45468801) Journal

    > The main payload will be the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3, plus
    > 28 tiny satellites called CubeSats about 4 inches on each side

    Mission Director: Orbit achieved. Launch the Air Force satellite!

    Operator: Launched...and away, sir.

    Mission Director: Release the CubeSats!

    Operator: Releasing...all launched.

    Mission Director: How are they doing?

    Operator: All 28 read nominal.

    Mission Director: Good. I...

    Operator: Oop. One just went offline.. Wait, another just did, too. And another.

    Mission Director: What the Hell...?

    Operator: Another...and another! Every two seconds, one drops offline. They read a sudden temperature spike, then nothing. OH, that's it, all 28 are gone.

    Air Force Guy: That sux for you. My satellite just completed its 28 tests with flying colors.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Still, pretty neat. Nothing as cool as the ICBM launches I used to support... even tho the thing is a re-purposed ICBM itself.

  • Watched without binoculars. Appeared as a red dot rising at a 45 degree angle from the SSE heading E and could see a tiny trail. Pretty damned cool!

    • Had my sons out there to watch it. Between watching the video of the pad at launch and then being able to look up and see it rising above the house 7 seconds later they were really excited. Hoping the enthusiasm sticks!

  • We're up in Waterloo, Ontario. Watched the launch go on NASA live and knew I had about two minutes. Got the kids out the back patio and facing SE up into the clear night sky. Our backyard faces due south and the moon was just out of sight behind the corner of the neighbours house to my left (looking south). About T+120 seconds saw the orange exhaust glow for about 20 seconds before it faded out. A bit "ripply" due to the amount of atmosphere and angle. Not especially bright, about 50% of the magnitude of Ve
  • by j_presper_eckert ( 617907 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @10:20PM (#45469475)
    Clearly visible from my selected seashore town in southern New Jersey. I could not make out the exhaust trail due to some ultra-local light pollution (fortunately not TOO overpowering), but the engine glow itself was visible the entire time. I had a cloudless night here that was just too good to waste by not going for a drive this evening to "be there in person".

    From a distance of roughly 80 miles from Wallops Island, the light was a visible circle (not a mere point-source) and strongly resembled the somewhat faint orange glow of a lit cigarette in a darkened room. From this vantage point, it did not shrink to a point until nearly 2 to 2.5 minutes after my first sighting

    While the rocket was on its way, It was really nice to be talking to a friend on the phone who was viewing the live webcast on his computer. This gave me basically realtime intel on when each engine stage was shut down and the next one was ignited -- I could actually see the glow temporarily darken, then brighten again several seconds later. All in all, a very enjoyable experience despite my inability to be any closer to the launch site.

    I'm extremely impressed that it was clearly visible from Toronto, eh! :)
  • I heard the sat fly over about 30 minutes ago broadcasting it's morse code. Pretty cool stuff!
  • "about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart."

    According to the specification [] linked from the wikipedia article [], you can offer more exact measurements in metric:
    -The CubeSat shall be 100mm +/- 0.1 mm wide (X and Y dimensions)
    - The CubeSat shall be 113.5mm +/- 0.1 mm wide (Z dimension)
    - Each single CubeSat shall not exceed 1.33kg mass

  • Cube-shaped satellites silhouetted against the Earth, and no one makes a joke about Borg cubes?! This is not the Slashdot I remember...

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall