amsatLink is a proposed three-phased program to ultimately establish a constellation of nanosatellites, linked in a peer-to-peer voice communications network for amateur satellite service. As a wireless ad hoc network, future satellites can be added to the network and ground stations, moving in and out of a nanosatellite node’s footprint, can easily join and exit the network.
IEEE 802.11 wireless ad hoc network, operating within the FCC Part 97 amateur radio frequency allocation of the 2.4 GHz microwave band
Individual satellite and ground nodes connect directly, dynamically, and non-hierarchically to as many other nodes as possible and cooperate with one another to create one virtual network that can efficiently route data from/to clients.
If one endpoint cannot see its desired destination, but can see nodes in between, the data will hop from one to the next until the final connection is made – completely and automatically.
Small stack protocol to reduce overhead and ease communications between network nodes
Absolute timing obtained from GPS
In addition, as a constellation of nanosatellites orbiting the Earth, amsatLink allows for the multipoint collection of space weather measurements, which contribute a unique and invaluable set of scientific data for scientific and educational analysis.
While the idea of cross-link communication between satellites is not new, amsatLink hopes to continue the efforts of NASA’s PhoneSat, EDSN constellation, and NODES missions, by
expanding the network to include ground-based nodes,
demonstrating the use of voice over internet protocol communications, and
organizing nodes into clusters, where each cluster consists of one nanosatellite node and any visible ground nodes.
amsatLink will continue NASA’s design philosophy by utilizing commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and keeping the design and mission objectives as simple as possible. Estimated total hardware cost per satellite is less than $5,000. Proposed ground stations will also use off the shelf equipment with a total estimated cost of less than $150.
Design and build working prototypes of both nanosatellite and ground nodes as a proof of concept and test systems integration. Testing will include a terrestrial-based simulation and a high-altitude (60,000 – 105,000 feet ASL) simulation as payload aboard high-altitude balloon launch.
Build two 1.5u nanosatellite nodes and launch them from the ISS as a technology demonstrator of a peer-to-peer communications network. Due to the expected orbit being only 400km-450km, we expect a short mission lifetime of only two weeks to a month.
Initial deployment of a three-1.5u nanosatellite formation at an optimal orbital altitude. Subsequent launches will add nodes to the network, greatly expanding the cross-link coverage area.