The QIKCOM-1 module containing an APRS transponder and Terrestrial Alert beacon will be deployed from the ISS on 21 Aug 2017.
Built as a student project Amateur Satellite module at the Naval Academy, and attached to the NovaWurks SIMPL spacecraft, it will function identical to the ISS transponder on 145.825 with the same ARISS alias and once they widely separate, will permit possible dual-hop experiments between it and the ISS APRS digipeater. See page.
A second experiment is a terrestrial alert beacon on the North American continent APRS frequency of 144.39*. This beacon can alert mobile operators doing normal APRS activities that the spacecraft is in view and that they can QSY to the space frequency of 145.825 for a quick satellite operation. A European beacon was also planned, but is disabled due to lack of consensus, and only the two A/B frequencies were possible in the hardware. This unconventional operation was coordinated in 2014 prior to the IARU change in policy in 2016 that will no longer coordinate such out-of-subband operations.
The module and host SIMPL spacecraft have been on the ISS since December 2015, but not deployed due to a SNAFU with the FCC.
Although this is the date of the Great North American Solar Eclipse, as far as we know at this time, this scheduled deployment has nothing to do with the Eclipse. But tens of thousands of hams will be out in the field that day to observe the eclipse, so remember to bring your APRS HT with you and listen for QIKCOM-1. (Release time is unknown at this time). It is 4 Watts and should be hearable on an HT.
Bob Bruninga, WB4APR and
Todd Bruner, WB1HAI control operator.
* As everyone knows, the terrestrial 144.39 frequency is wall-to-wall packets in most populated areas and the chance of hearing the QIKCOM-1 module is small, but remember, those people who are driving in remote areas who are NOT hearing wall-to-wall packets, will have a high probability of seeing the beacon. And it is these remote travelers, far from the terrestrial network that are the ones that might need a satellite to get their message out!