SunSpace was established in 2000 as a spin-off from Stellenbosch University following the successful launch of SUNSAT by NASA with a Delta-II launch vehicle. During the past decade SunSpace has developed and delivered numerous satellite components, subsystems and two flight model satellite, now operational in space. This blog documents the mission of Sumbandila (funded by the DST), launched on a Soyuz-2.1b on 17 September 2009. SunSpace places a high premium on a strong partnership with the South African Government for supplying the ongoing satellite needs of our government.

24 October 2009

Fine Sun Sensor image

This image of the sun was taken by die Fine Sun Sensor today.  The sun centroid is then extracted by SW using a region-growing algorithm.  The centroid is required by the more advanced attitude determination estimators in order to 3-axis stabilize the satellite.

Below is a graph depicting the extracted X and Y coordinates of the centroid, calculated 1s apart, for a duration of 1 hour and 4 minutes (total sunlit part of one complete orbit).

21 October 2009

OSCAR number (SO-67) allocated to Sumbandila

Given the recent success with the SA-AMSAT payload on the satellite, we have been officially assigned the OSCAR number of SO-67 by AMSAT (USA).  See message of Bill Tynan (AMSAT OSCAR number coordinator) below.  For more background on assignment of OSCAR number, see SUNSAT was allocated the OSCAR number SO-35 in 1999. 

You can also listen to an edited version of the latest ARNewsline report here (see for more detail).

I am in receipt of an e-mail sent to the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors by Hans van de Groenendaal, Secretary SA AMSAT. 

The e-mail states that the amateur payload on SumbandilaSat was developed by SA AMSAT and incorporated by the University of Stellenbosch into the main payload and that the SA AMSAT payload was officially coordinated through IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination Panel with an uplink of 145,880 and downlink of 435,350 MHz

The e-mail further states that the amateur radio transponder on SumbandilaSat was successfully switched on from the ground by ZS6BPZ during the test phase on Sunday 18 October 2009 and that several QSOs were made through the transponder.

The e-mail also requests that an OSCAR number be allocated to this spacecraft.

Therefore, by the authority vested in me by the AMSAT-NA President, I hereby designate this latest amateur radio satellite as SumbandilaSat Oscar 67 or SO- 67.

On behalf of AMSAT-NA and the world's amateur radio satellite community I congratulate those responsible for building, testing and launching this new satellite. May it have a long and successful life.

William A. (Bill) Tynan, W3XO

19 October 2009

SA AMSAT payload tested successfully

During the first morning pass of Sun 18 Oct we have activated the voice beacon (435.350 MHz) at 07:48 UTC and switched on the bent-pipe transponder (uplink 145.880 MHz, downlink 435.350 MHz) during the first evening pass at 19:13 UTC, with several Radio Amateurs then operating through the satellite transponder.

You can listen to a recording made during the evening pass here.

Below is a graphic depicting the location of the six Radio Amateurs that partook in the first test.

Feedback from some of the Hams that participated in the first test:
  • Congratulations to all part of the success of the first Sumbandilasat comms. Well done! (Eddie Leighton, ZS6BNE)
  • When I was on freq the Sat's audio was clear with a S7 signal which sounds just like a local repeater. Congrats to the TEAM ! (Andre van Deventer, ZS2BK)
  • The down link was pretty strong - It's at least 10dB stronger than AO51/SO50 given the same setup. Good news indeed. Suggest operation from Quadrifilar Omni with a low noise preamp on 70cm might be quite achievable (Allan Saul, ZS1LS)

Current Keplerian Elements

Last Update: 1 Febr 2010
Element set: 404

1 35870U 09049F   10032.48635300  .00000433  00000-0  21444-4 0  4040
2 35870 097.3525 084.8560 0011505 166.1189 300.7196 15.22856092 20818