Lately, the world of ham satellites has been turned on its head. The price of satellite launches has risen astronomically, so when it comes to building satellites on a shoe- string budget, big is out and small is in... and these days, small means CubeSat.
A CubeSat looks just like you would imagine — a small, cube-shaped satellite. The CubeSat concept was co-conceived several years ago by Professor Jordi Puig- Suari of California Polytechnic State Uni- versity along with Professor Bob Twiggs, KE6QMD. Soon universities started build- ing CubeSats as teaching tools, making colleges the new launch customers on the block.
Introducing the AMSAT-NA Fox CubeSat Program
In 2008, the Radio Amateur Satellite Cor- poration of North America, better known as AMSAT-NA, was seeking a new direction after cancelling the Eagle satellite project due in part to the rising cost of launches. In October of the same year, newly ap- pointed AMSAT-NA Vice President of Engineering Tony Monteiro, AA2TX (SK), assembled a team with the goal of finding the best options for AMSAT-NA's return to space. They soon agreed that AMSAT-NA could (and should) create a CubeSat, mainly because such a satellite would only cost around $65,000 to launch. The team's findings were presented at the 2009 AMSAT-NA Board of Directors meeting. All agreed to build and (hopefully) launch a number of CubeSats under what is now known as the Fox Program.