Ingenuity and innovation by the SumbandilaSat ground control team has resulted in bringing the satellite back to life with a real possibility
that Amateur Radio communication may resume next month while the satellite is in sunlight.
The ground stations at SANSA Space operations at Hartbeeshoek and the Electronic Systems Laboratory at Stellenbosch University are receiving
telemetry when the satellite’s solar panels are illuminated by the sun.
Johann Lochner, ZR1CBC, said that in early June 2011, for an unknown reason (but probably related to a major radiation event on 7 June), the
primary controller on the power distribution unit (PDU) powering the On-Board Computer (OBC) stopped responding to commands from the ground
It later appeared that the battery had failed and nothing was heard from the satellite for some time. The ground segment software to monitor the
passes over South Africa and to contact the satellite to initiate the recovery procedure was automated. After a month contact was made again.
This was mid November. “We set in place a planned recovery procedure and within 3-4 days we came to the conclusion that the main battery had
failed”, Johann said. With SumbandilaSat responding when it is in full sunlight Johan Lochner is confident that some operations will be restored
even to the point where it may be possible to do some imaging and have the amateur radio transponder back in operation. More on recovery efforts are
on line at www.amsatsa.org.za.