As those who’ve been keeping up with the telemetry data coming in from KickSat may have noticed, the packets we’ve been receiving have changed in the last couple of days. This was due to a hard reset of the “watchdog” microcontroller on KickSat that manages turning on and off the rest of the subsystems and keeps the master clock. It appears the reset happened some time in the morning of Wednesday, April 30th. The reset doesn’t seem to be the result of power issues (the watchdog should run until the batteries reach 5.5 volts, and they’ve been holding steady around 6.5 volts). Instead, it seems the likely culprit was radiation.
One consequence of the watchdog reset on KickSat is that the spacecraft’s master clock was reset, thus also setting the deployment countdown for KickSat back to 16 days. That would put the deployment some time in the morning of May 16th. Unfortunately, it looks like KickSat will most likely reenter and burn up before the 16th. We’ve spent the last couple of days here at Cornell trying to think of every possible contingency, but it seems there aren’t very many options right now. KickSat’s uplink radio, which we could use to command the deployment, can’t turn on unless the batteries reach 8 volts, and it doesn’t look like they’ll reach that level in time.
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