The second generation of CubeSats in the BIRDS constellation now is on board the International Space Station (ISS) and set for deployment in early August using the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) module’s remote manipulator arm. The June 29 SpaceX Falcon 9 launch carried the BIRDS-2 CubeSats — MAYA-1, BHUTAN-1, and UiTMSAT-1, built by students from Malaysia, Bhutan, and the Philippines at the hosting Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. All CubeSats have identical designs and utilize the same frequencies. While independently made, operation and control of the three CubeSats will be shared by three teams after the spacecraft are released into space. All three CubeSats will transmit a CW beacon on 437.375 MHz. They will be operational for 6 months.
“The three will form a constellation, orbiting the Earth from different places. This will provide the countries more opportunities to make measurements and run experiments than just with using one CubeSat,” explained Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr., manager of the PHL-Microsat program in the Philippines. The primary mission of BIRDS-2 CubeSat constellation is to provide digital message relay service to the Amateur Radio community by means of an onboard APRS digipeater on a frequency of 145.825 MHz.
Another mission of the BIRDS-2 CubeSat constellation is to demonstrate a store-and-forward system, investigating technical challenges through experiments on appropriate data format, multiple access scheme, and file-handling protocol while complying with limited operational time and power constraints.