The CubeSat slingshot dispenser holding RFTSat will be installed on the Cygnus hatch today, while docked at the International Space Station. Cygnus will then undock from the ISS Tuesday (tomorrow) at noon EDT, which will be live-streamed on NASA TV. The CubeSats will deploy at the first signals from RFTSat will send on-orbit data sometime Wednesday afternoon.
After a couple of delays, the SpX-18 (Dragon) launched successfully on a Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket on Thursday, 26 July 2019, at 6:01pm. The entire video of the launch, as well as the first stage recovery, is shown below. Included on this space mission is a small satellite — RFTsat — that contains a special passive microwave sensing system designed and built by a team of Northwest Nazarene University and the GTPG. The low-powered microwave reader converts solar power to a microwave beam that energizes a rectenna at distance, which powers a sensor platform at distance. Among other things, this is a history-making piece of hardware — the first demonstration of a 5.8 GHz solar-to-microwave-to-DC wireless power conversion in space. Read more about reader and tag system here.
After a launch scrub Sunday, then again Wednesday (weather), the CRS SpX-18 (Dragon) launch is re-scheduled for tomorrow evening Thursday, 26 July 2019, 6:01pm. The launch info can be tracked here.
RFTSat is going to launch in less than 1 week! RFTSat will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) as cargo aboard a Space-X Falcon 9 rocket. It will be stored on the station for about 1 week and then its dispenser (a spring-loaded box that holds RFTSat) will be bolted to the hatch of a Cygnus resupply vehicle. The Cygnus vehicle will un-dock from the ISS, propoel itself to a higher altitude, and then release RFTSat into orbit. If you are interested, you can live stream the launch of RFTSat on NASA TV. Here is the NASA TV schedule is here is the main NASA TV page for streaming. Details are as follows:
RFTSat Launch: July 21, Sunday
5 p.m. – Replay of SpaceX CRS-18 What’s On Board Briefing (All Channels)
7 p.m. – Coverage of the SpaceX CRS-18 Launch; launch is scheduled at 7:35 p.m. EDT. SpaceX CRS-18 is a Commercial Resupply Service mission to the International Space Station (All Channels)
Deployment of Cygnus Vehicle from ISS (with RFTSat mounted on the hatch): July 27, Saturday
12 p.m. – Coverage of the Departure of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus CRS-11 Cargo Craft from the International Space Station; release time is is 12:20 p.m. EDT (All Channels)
Joshua Griffin, PhD
Associate Professor of Engineering
Northwest Nazarene University