UK mini-satellite project gets closer to lift-off

The UK's fledgling project to put a miniature satellite into orbit has taken a step forward with a call for a ground-based co-ordinator.On Friday, the UK Space Agency called for bids from organisations to provide the ground segment and operations support for the UK's mini-satellite endeavour, the UK Universal Bus Experiment (UKube).

The UK's fledgling project to put a miniature satellite into orbit has taken a step forward with a call for a ground-based co-ordinator.

On Friday, the UK Space Agency called for bids from organisations to provide the ground segment and operations support for the UK's mini-satellite endeavour, the UK Universal Bus Experiment (UKube).

UKube's first project, the UKube1 satellite, will measure 10cm by 10cm by 34cm and will carry three different payloads into space. The launch is planned for 1 December, 2011. UKube1 is a pilot project for a national CubeSat programme. UKube1 is being developed by Clyde Space and the University of Strathclyde.

The ground segment provider will operate UKube1, co-ordinate with other ground stations and conduct a payload operations review of the satellite, according to the announcement of opportunity, released on Friday.

"The ground segment and operations support entity must provide their own funding. In return, the organisation will secure a unique opportunity to operate the national UK CubeSat and enhance education activity," the UK Space Agency said on its website. "The ground segment must operate in accordance with international amateur radio regulations."

The ground segment will be required to operate in the UHF, VHF and S-band amateur frequencies and be compatible with typical amateur ground stations.

Initial expressions of interest are required by 7 February, with full proposals due for 25 February.

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