MVP-A Advances

This week, the team made some significant advances in MVP-A development.

Sam Carlowicz completed the first revision of the MVP-A spacecraft CAD model and worked out how to create cable harnesses in PTC Creo, something previously poorly done. This will allow the team to analyze where their wire harnesses will go before integration and allow for the identification of risks and problems before manufacture of wire harnesses.

 MVP-A CAD Revision B

MVP-A CAD Revision B

Brendan McGreal was successful in his attempts to create a power relay switched by a MOSFET. This breakthrough in our capability will allow SSRL to individually power on and off different sensors to improve power management.

High school interns Audrey and Emily officially started this week and got right to work on inspecting the UHF and VHF communication systems to identify weathering and other needed repairs. They will be running an azimuth and elevation motor control verification test in the near future before moving on to Thermal Vacuum Chamber tests and setting up a remote communications station.

Thermal Vacuum Chamber Updates

On June 7th, the Space Systems Research Lab Summer Team attended a training session on the newly remodeled Thermal Vacuum Chamber (T-Vac). Krzysztof Bzydk (2018 M.S. Aerospace Engineering) worked on updating the T-Vac for his master's project. The new capabilities include point source heating elements to simulate solar radiation effects, a removable shroud to hang test articles, x4 IR Thermal Sensors, a digital control interface, a switched power interface, and detailed operations and maintenance procedures. Krzysztof will be heading off to NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio to work propulsion for the Orion spacecraft. We are appreciative of his work with SSRL and wish him the best. 

 Bzydk explains updates to SSRL's summer team. 

Bzydk explains updates to SSRL's summer team. 

Aurora Launch Scheduling Change

Due to scheduling complications, the launch of SLU-05 (AURORA) is being postponed. The new launch date is being discussed, but it will launch no earlier than August of 2019. In the meantime, members of the lab will be constructing MVP-1, a smaller satellite that will be launched within the following 12 months. This satellite will be 1/3 the size of AURORA and will allow our engineers to continue building on skills necessary to improve the efficiency of future satellites.

Morris Teaches Students to Fly with Autodesk's Eagle


One week after Matthew Boss's successful teaching session on electrical engineering, Program Manager Connor Morris took the lab's new members through an overview of Autodesk's Eagle program. Eagle allows its user to design and produce circuit boards, which is extremely useful in the development of a CubeSat. Morris led the students through the design of a simple circuit board, with each student following along on their own laptops through the process. After finishing their boards, Morris then discussed examples of Eagle's use in the lab and its importance in the design of well-made spacecraft. 

Introduction to Electrical Engineering Teaching Session a Success


At the beginning of October, senior electrical engineer Matthew Boss led a group of new lab members through a presentation about the basics of electrical engineering. Boss introduced the students to basic circuit theory, Kirchoff's Laws, and the appropriate applications of each. He then led the students through examples and practice problems to help those present gain a better appreciation of the importance of electrical engineering in the design of a spacecraft.

Copper Rascal Preliminary Design Review...

Recently, the team leads of our laboratory have decided to postpone the preliminary design review of the most recent project, Copper Rascal. The preliminary design review is a time for our design concepts to be critiqued by satellite development experts. We want the most relevant and meaningful critiques possible in order to ensure the best final satellite design. By postponing the preliminary design review, we are allowing teams more time to refine their plans for more time, a crucial step to furthering the development of our current plans.

A major aspect of the design that is still being debated is the attitude determination and control, or ADC. The ADC determines which approach we take to pointing the satellite in the proper direction. For this mission, that proper direction is downward facing. Currently, team leads are considering the use of permanent magnets, magnetorquers or gravity gradient booms for the ADC method. Fistly, the magnetic method is known as a "passive" system, because it doesn't consume any electricity and is a fairly common and easy-to-implement system. The two main drawbacks to this system are the facts that it only allows for two-axis control, and that due to the sun-synchronous orbit the magnetic field would turn the satellite at a relatively slow speed. Magnetorquers are very similar to the previous approach, except that instead of permanent magnets, we'd use a series of electromagnets that we could turn on or off, allowing for three-axis control, and avoid the flipping issue. One the other hand, this is an active system, meaning that we can control it from the ground but it consumes quite a substantial amount of electricity. Finally, gravity gradient booms are another passive method, except for the initial deployment, with reasonable calculations for precision. The disadvantage of this method is that it would be harder and expensive for us to build, due to its many vulnerable moving parts that are prone to breaking. The new preliminary design review date on is November 20th, and by then we are projected to have established our ADC as well as countless other aspects of the preliminary design.