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Orbiting Picosat Automatic Launcher, also called OO-38 and OPAL OSCAR-38


Designation 26063 / 00004C
Launch date 27 Jan 2000
Country of origin United States
Mission Technology
Perigee/Apogee 773 km
Inclination 100.2°
Period 100.4 min
Launch vehicle Minotaur #1

Stanford University's second Satellite QUIck Research Testbed (SQUIRT) satellite. The SQUIRT program, offered by the Satellite Systems Development Laboratory (SSDL) in the Stanford University Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is designed to expose graduate level students to all aspects of the design and construction of a satellite. Each SQUIRT micro-satellite is meant to be constructed in one year on a budget of just $50,000. The design for OPAL was started in early April of 1995.

OPAL's (Orbiting Picosat Automatic Launcher) primary mission is to test the feasibility of launching 6 picosatellites from a mothership satellite (Stensat, MENS, Artemis). The 0.5 kg Stensat, built by an AMSAT-NA group, carries an amateur radio transponder. The DARPA/Aerospace Corp. MEMS (Micro Electro-mechanical Systems) picosatellites (2 of them), carry an intersatellite communications experiment and are connected by a 30-m tether. Santa Clara University's Artemis payload consists of 3 picosatellites (Jak (200 g), Thelma (500 g) and Louise (500 g)) that carry a VLF wave experiment.

OPAL uses a mechanical launching system to eject three hockey-puck sized picosats.

The satellite's secondary payloads consist of a suite of miniature accelerometers and a flux gate magnetometer that will be validated in space. Four experimental payloads are supplied by various US organisations including RF Beacon, GPS Ionospheric Sounding Payload, Polymer Battery, and Ultra Quiet Stabilisation Platform

External resources


sat-index articles

Sub satellites

MENS (26080 / 00004H):
The MENS satellites are smaller than a deck of cards (10 x 7.5 x 2.5 cm). They are linked by a tether. The satellites can communicate with each other and with the ground station by radio (with omni-directional antennas). Two transmissions were successful.

Stensat (26094 / 00004M):
Downlink: 436.625 MHz, Uplink: 145.84 MHz, "J" FM voice repeater

JAK (26093 / 00004L)
Louise (26091 / 00004J) (no-data received)
Thelma (26092 / 00004K) (no-data received)

Technical data


Prime contractor SSTL
Mass at launch 50 kg
Mass in orbit  
Dimension hexagonal prism 23.5 cm height, 21 cm outside radius
Solar array  
Stabilization none
DC power  
Design lifetime  

Uplink: in 420-450 MHz band
Downlink: 437.100 MHz (1.7 W)
data rate 9600 baud

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