SA AMSAT CubeSat project on track

January 7th, 2016, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: EngineerIT


SA AMSAT has successfully completed the first prototype of the various elements of its CubeSat project, named Kletskous. The CubeSat is being designed and built by radio amateurs and will ultimately include a 20 kHz linear transponder, extensive telemetry and command systems and selected school science projects. Kletskous measures 10 x 10x 10 cm and will be powered by solar panels.

Hans van de Groenendaal, President SA AMSAT discussing the progress of the Kletskous project with Dr Sandile Malinga at the SFSA held at the CSIR Conference Centre in December last year. SA AMSAT is talking with SANSA to include a similar payload in SANSA’s planned Earth Observation Satellite, EOS 1

Hans van de Groenendaal, president SA AMSAT discussing the progress of the Kletskous project with Dr. Sandile Malinga at the SFSA held at the CSIR Conference Centre in December  2015. SA AMSAT is in discussions with SANSA to include a similar payload in SANSA’s planned Earth Observation Satellite, EOS 1.

At the recently held Science Forum South Africa, SA AMSAT announced its school science project by inviting learners and school science groups to take their next science project into space.

Because of the small size, any science project to be considered for inclusion in the satellite has to be small and should consume only the minimum of power. The selected projects will be incorporated on one of the main printed circuit boards and connected to the telemetry system. This means that participants in the science projects will be able to download their own telemetry and evaluate how their project is performing and analysing the data collected from space. The telemetry stream will also be made available on the SA AMSAT web pages, giving access to the data to learners with tablets and laptops.

Hannes Coetzee ZS6BZP, Kletskous project manager and Nico van Rensburg ZS6QL, the South African Radio League (SARL) youth councillor and V-P of SARL believe that this initiative will bring the value that amateur radio can bring to science education to the attention of teachers, learners and parents. “Science in high school can be boring; bringing in the elements of satellites and space can do much to make the subject more interesting,” Hannes Coetzee said.

The overall mission of the new satellite is to give radio amateurs and educational institutions in Southern Africa easy access to a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite on as many of the available passes as possible and thus stimulate interest and activity in space, satellites and amateur radio. Kletskous has been designed with an uplink on 70 cm, and a downlink on 2 m. A linear transponder with a bandwidth of 20 kHz will provide two way communication using either two FM channels or multiple SSB. channels. A sub-carrier for a telemetry downlink will be included. For command and control purposes a separate 70 cm frequency will be used. Currently frequencies in the 435,100 to 435,140 MHz range are considered for the uplink and 145,860 to 145,980 MHz for the downlink. The frequency choices will ensure that the transponder is accessible for general use while the satellite is being commanded and controlled by the ground station. Given that VHF/VHF hand-held FM transceivers are freely available at reasonable prices in South Africa, thus ensuring maximum access by African radio amateurs and science project participants to Kletskous.

How to have a school project considered for space flight

A good choice would be something that could measure happenings in space such the temperature inside or outside the satellite, sounds in space, radiation particle count and many more. The school science project must be developed on a breadboard, tested and software to run the project must be developed. A detailed proposal containing as much information as possible must be submitted by the closing date. The applicant must include information about the group, including any photographs and contact details such as a contact telephone number, email address, and physical location.

The proposal must be sent by email to The closing date for proposals is 31 March 2016. Depending on the type and scope of the proposal, SA AMSAT will make the final decision and advise all entrants by 30 April 2016. The entrants of the successful project or projects will be invited to make a short presentation at the 2016 SA AMSAT Space Symposium planned for on 28 May 2016 at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria.

“Schools who do not submit a science project of their own, still have the opportunity to carry out experiments and participate in several space related projects,”said Nico van Rensburg. “Our two organisations, SA AMSAT and SARL, are working closely together to promote amateur radio as the greatest of all scientific hobbies that has an impact on future career selection.”

The SA AMSAT CubeSat project is funded by donations and support from industry such a Trax Interconnect which sponsors the manufacture of sophisticated multiplayer PC boards and RS Components and Avnet South Africa which sponsors many of the electronic components. To contribute and/or participate in the project send an email to or visit

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