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Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio Payload Among Those Lost in Launch Explosion

The RACE and GOMX-2 CubeSats were among more than 2 dozen satellites lost after an unmanned Orbital Space Sciences (OSC) Antares 130 vehicle exploded spectacularly shortly after launch at 2222 UTC on Tuesday, October 28, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Both satellite packages carried Amateur Radio payloads. The Antares is a new medium-class launch vehicle developed by OSC. The rocket exploded about 6 seconds after launch, sending a huge ball of fire hurtling toward the ground, which set a massive fire at the NASA launch site. The RACE (Radiometer Atmospheric Cubesat Experiment) CubeSat was a joint project between The Texas Spacecraft Laboratory (TSL) at the University of Texas-Austin and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Built by a 30-student team, it carried a 183 GHz radiometer, a new science instrument designed by JPL. The spacecraft was equipped to transmit using GMSK at 38.4 k and CW telemetry on a downlink frequency of 437.525MHz. TSL’s Glenn Lightsey, KE5DDG, a UT engineering professor, oversaw the student project that worked hand-in-hand with NASA staff in creating a satellite that aimed to measure water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere. “It’s unfortunate, but it is also part of the aerospace industry,” Lightsey told the Texas Statesman newspaper. “The nature of building space vehicles is that it is not a 100 percent reliable process. Getting into space is really the hardest part.” via ARRL.

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