BLUESAT

BLUEsat, an acronym of Basic Low-Earth-orbit University of NSW Experimental satellite, is a digital amateur radio satellite being designed and built solely by students here at the University of NSW. The satellite is a small cube measuring approximately 260mm on each side, excluding antennae, and weighs around 14kg. Powered by fixed solar panels on each face, it will carry a flight computer, radio transmitters and receivers, a power-control system, battery packs for when its orbit places it in the Earth's shadow, magnets to passively stabilise the satellite and align it with the Earth's magnetic field, and will be controlled via a dedicated communications groundstation here at UNSW. BLUEsat will be placed in an approximately circular orbit at an altitude of around 750km that will take it over the poles. At this altitude, the satellite will travel around the Earth at a rate of around once every 90 minutes.

BLUEsat is primarily an educational satellite, designed to give students at UNSW space experience which they could not obtain elsewhere. Therefore its mission has been chosen to offer low cost and minimum complexity, whilst at the same time offering enough of a challenge to inspire and enthuse the students who work on it. There is no direct academic input to the project, and students receive no academic credit for participating, although a number of theses have been written on various aspects of the satellite. The project is thus completely student-led, with members derived from a wide variety of disciplines including Engineering, Science, Commerce, Arts and Law. As far as we are aware, BLUEsat is the only university satellite project in the world with an entirely volunteer student team, no full-time members, and no direct academic supervision.

What Will BLUESAT do?

Once in orbit BLUEsat will be a digital amateur radio satellite, which means that voice and data files can be uploaded to it by any amateur radio operator in the world over which the satellite passes. These same files can be retrieved by other operators in either real time, provided that the sender and receiver both have line-of-sight contact with the satellite, or at some other time when the satellite has travelled around to a different part of the world. This allows voice and data communication to and from remote areas without internet access. There are already several satellites which provide this service, but they are ageing, and new satellites need to be launched to replace them. Students from UNSW will continue to be the primary operators of the satellite whilst it is in orbit, continuing the educational focus throughout the full satellite lifecycle.

BLUESAT Objectives

For more information about the BLUEsat project please visit the BLUEsat Website.

If you would like to be involved in the BlueSat project, please email info@bluesat.unsw.edu.au.