Status Report

Mission Status Report: NASA’s Orbiting GeneSat-1 Radios Date to Team on Earth

By SpaceRef Editor
December 17, 2006
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Mission Status Report: NASA’s Orbiting GeneSat-1 Radios Date to Team on Earth

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – NASA’s GeneSat-1 satellite continues to orbit Earth, and researchers are receiving radioed data from the spacecraft. It was launched Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.

GeneSat-1 is a 10-pound satellite carrying bacteria inside a miniature laboratory to study how the microbes may respond in spaceflight. GeneSat-1 was a secondary payload on an Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket that also delivered the Air Force TacSat 2 satellite to orbit.

GeneSat-1 was designed and built at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and the mission is being managed from the center. John Hines, GeneSat-1 project manager at NASA Ames, has been providing e-mail updates about the spacecraft. Here are some excerpts from his messages:


6:28 p.m. PST, Dec. 16, 2006, John Hines wrote: My team has worked for the past 12 days nonstop to support this launch and ops startup from multiple locations. The universities are conducting mission ops, and we have all been up and on task non-stop since 3 a.m. PST this morning, and will be again on ops tasks from 2 a.m. tonight, onward. . . .


At 19:32 -0800 12/16/06, Mike McIntyre wrote: 154 unique beacon packets were sent in from all over the United States and the world (including Brazil and Japan) during our first day of operations. This data spans about three hours, and the statistics are as follows. We need more data to draw firm conclusions, but this is a good first look. This basically repeats what is on SCU’s dashboard:

(Notice that the Mean Solar Panel Temperature has been changed to 0 degrees C. after more analysis).

It is very exciting to see all these beacon packets coming in from all over.



GeneSat Status as of 3:58 a.m. PST, Dec. 17, 2006 (per verbal from Chris Kitts):

I’m happy to report that we’ve now received 2.4Ghz transceiver data, and are now pulling down some of the archived housekeeping data from both bus and payload. We have several more passes at approximately 90-minute intervals until around 8 a.m. PST. We will discuss our results to date with our Ops and Science team at our 9 a.m. PST internal Ops telcon today, and assess our functional status.

If all goes well, and the GeneSat is stable enough. (G, temperature, and ambient pressure); we may be able to initiate our biological experiment as early as Sunday evening (Dec. 17, 2006) or Monday (Dec. 18, 2006).


End of e-mail excerpts.

Earlier, Hines explained, “During this mission, we are exposing bacteria to the space environment to see how they are affected.” GeneSat-1’s onboard micro-laboratory includes sensors and optical systems that can detect proteins that are the products of specific genetic activity.

The GeneSat-1 ground control station at NASA Ames will receive data radioed from the micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria inside. The biological test will last only 96 hours, but the GeneSat-1 team will evaluate the stability of the orbiting payload’s systems for four months to a year.

The Small Spacecraft Office at NASA’s Ames teamed up with industry and local universities to develop the fully automated, miniature GeneSat spaceflight system that provides life support for small living things.

“GeneSat is the first of many small spacecraft and missions being developed and managed in the NASA Ames Small Spacecraft Office, which has been established to specifically demonstrate the capability to rapidly develop and deploy small, low-cost spacecraft missions and flight systems,” Hines observed.

For more information about GeneSat-1, please visit:

Publication-size images are available at:

SpaceRef staff editor.