ARISSat-1 finally deployed
I had the opportunity to watch the EVA live for the launch of ARISSat-1. Instead of a enjoyable thing to watch I was horrified at how the satellite was being handled. As soon as they came out of the hatch I thought for sure the solar panels would get busted the way they were letting it bounce around in micro-gravity. A lot of Amateur operators and students have been looking forward to the launch since SuitSat and the last thing I wanted to watch was this little sat get damaged before deployment.
Well my fears were realized as the “oh so careful” cosmonauts released the tether and was about to shove it off. The ground director radioed to hold, because they were concerned an antenna was missing. After a few minutes it was confirmed that one of the antennas was in fact missing. It was the UHF antenna that provides command and control inputs as well as the uplink to the transponder. They placed it near the airlock for safe keeping until they can make a decision whether or not to scrub the launch. A few hours later they decided to launch it in the degraded configuration. I am thankful that it is now in orbit so we can listen in on the telemetry, SSTV and voice recordings. That should provide a lot of fun for anyone interested.
I am, however, very disappointed with the reckless and unprofessional handling shown during the spacewalk for the deployment of ARISSat-1. A lot of time and money was spent on the development, manufacturing and coordination of this launch. The Cosmonauts handled it like it was a basketball rather than a fragile sophisticated piece of hardware. I am not surprised at all that one of the antennas got ripped off and a solar panel has a gouge in the side of it. It was a pathetic EVA and this is what Americans have to depend on for the foreseeable future? If I were AMSAT I would not have any more sats deployed in that manner, unless they knew it was going to be handled MUCH better than it was by these two “Cosmonauts”.
First hand launch attempt:
Possible damage to solar panel
Broken UHF Antenna
Pre-deployment UHF installation
The Russian way to handle satellite deployments.