RAHS Satellite Team

One of our sub-projects, Legolas, involves launching a weather balloon into the atmosphere. Occurring in Spring of 2017, the launch will be the first of a series of preliminary tests before the main RAHS CubeSat, project Gandalf, is launched. This is an interview I conducted with the two people who are in charge of this project, Cole Evans and Miles Durnwirth.

Timothy Wang: What is a weather balloon?

Cole Evans and Miles Durnwirth: A weather balloon is a giant “party’ balloon that can carry many pounds all the way up into the stratosphere. So our balloon will be going up to about 125,000 feet, and we’ll being using that to test equipment up in the near vacuum of near space. It’s not actually reaching space, but it’s getting pretty close.

TW: Why are we launching first on a weather balloon?

CE & MD: We are using a weather balloon to test some of our sub systems before they’re actually flown in the CubeSat to make sure they’re functional and they do everything they are expected to do before they are actually flown into space. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will be a tryout to see if it really works.

TW: What is our goal for this mission?

CE & MD: Our primary goal is to test our communications system and also to verify the board from the University of Washington’s team. Our stretch goal is to test some systems with flight software such as timed-triggered events and possibly attitude control. Also, we just want to nail down procedures and other stuff; we need more practice for that leading up to a space mission. It’s about reassurance than anything else.

TW: What are some things we are working on right now?

CE & MD: Right now, we are working on a wind tunnel model that we will 3D print to verify the stability of the capsule. Basically, we need to make sure the capsule is aerodynamically stable as it descends through very thin atmosphere.

 

–Timothy Wang

Marketing and Media

Despite the fact that we did not have a meeting Tuesday for mid-winter break, this week our team continued to work on meeting our April 1 deadline for a preliminary design review.
Picture

On Wednesday, some of our members spoke with GomSpace, the company who will supply our parts for the CubeSat. Lead by Eli Mackley, our team discussed the process and cost of buying the parts from GomSpace. In addition, the communications team began to work with a new transceiver which could work better than the previous transceiver the team had. Meanwhile on the electronics team, the members more closely investigated attitude control to make sure the satellite is oriented in the right direction to take the pictures.

In addition, we took a new team photo on Wednesday with our team shirts. You can check out the photo on the “About” page of our website!

One of the smaller subteams in electronics is the camera and mission operations team, a group that mainly deals with the components of the camera and generates ideas for the picture targets. Recently, we have been looking at ideal orbits for our cubesat, as the picture targets are limited based on the orbit that is taken. This was a challenge for us because a finalized decision on the launch choice has not been affirmed.
 

In our research, we found that the National University of Al Farabi Kazakh, used the same camera that we are planning to use in a past mission. This camera in the Nano camera from GomSpace, but there were some differences in their cubesat design. We saw it worthy to contact the university about questions that would further our understanding on the picture targets as well as their sun synchronous orbit. There was the trouble of translating our letter into Kazakh, but luckily Ms. Nurzhanov, our school dean, was originally from Kazakhstan, and was able to help us accurately translate it.

We expect to finish and finalize picture targets for a variety of possible orbits by the end of February (though this is a soft deadline) and to settle on a decision on the launch choice as soon as possible. A final selection of our choice of launch will allow us to specifically map out where to take our pictures, and more importantly, precisely record the time to take the picture while in orbit.

Despite the fact that we did not have a meeting Tuesday for mid-winter break, this week our team continued to work on meeting our April 1 deadline for a preliminary design review.

On Wednesday, some of our members spoke with GomSpace, the company who will supply our parts for the CubeSat. Lead by Eli Mackley, our team discussed the process and cost of buying the parts from GomSpace. In addition, the communications team began to work with a new transceiver which could work better than the previous transceiver the team had. Meanwhile on the electronics team, the members more closely investigated attitude control to make sure the satellite is oriented in the right direction to take the pictures.

In addition, we took a new team photo on Wednesday with our team shirts. You can check out the photo on the “About” page of our website!

This week, all of the members of the Raisbeck Aviation High School Satellite Team are working
hard to meet the April 1 deadline for a preliminary design review. This will give a detailed account of our satellite’s appearance and primary functions, which will be an important step in reaching our goal of launching a CubeSat by 2017.

Without a way to communicate with our satellite, it will be impossible to take and receive the photos that it takes. Thus, our communications team is looking into the AX100 transceiver and antennae, and they are getting to know the “ins and outs” of using such a system to communicate with our satellite. With the help of their trusted mentors, the B.E.A.R.S., the communications team is working hard to meet deadlines. The electronics team has also been busy this week looking into where to place the components on an EPS, or an electronic power system, as well as how to hook these up to a battery.

Unfortunately, our meeting with GomSpace, which will help supply us with the parts for our CubeSat, was postponed until next week. Nevertheless, we are still very excited to talk with our parts supplier and are appreciative for their time. With our preliminary design review deadline approaching, the next couple weeks will be instrumental in ensuring that we stay on schedule to launch our satellite

Of the many subteams working to complete the satellite, the largest is electronics as a result of the number and complexity of PCBs, or printed circuit boards. One of the busiest sections of the electronics subteam is power. On top of learning many new concepts, a small group of people must work to ensure that the $75,000 cubesat does not die.

EPS from Gomspace

A lot of work is involved in making sure the satellite stays running throughout its flight. Our cubesat has five different PCBs that require varying of voltage and current for varying amounts of time. Within each PCB are many different subsystems, which need to be monitored to make sure they do not use too much electricity and overheat. There aren’t any electrical outlets or charging ports in space either, so the team has to make sure the satellite can be entirely self-sufficient.

To stay on track, the team must finish their work by April.

To tackle this challenge, the team has begun work on a power budget. Containing different columns for required voltage, current, amount of time, and other key pieces of information, the chart helps us balance how much electricity we need and how much we actually have from our solar panels. A rough draft was submitted for review by Hannah Goldberg, a Planetary Resources satellite engineer the team has been working with since the end of the last school year. Edits were made, and while the budget is not yet finished, the team is now much closer to a complete electronics design.

This week, we learned, planned, and worked with mentors, putting us a step closer towards a preliminary design review in April. Focus, documentation, and persistence has been key as the team designs our CubeSat, so let’s take a look at some of this week’s highlights:

Playing in space is technically challenging, certainly, but is also very expensive. Our media/marketing team started off the week planning our funding process with the help of mentor Hilary Meyerson. With the goal of using a combination of crowd-sourcing and business outreach to meet our financial goal, it will be imperative to create an inspiring brand for the Satellite Mission Team. Being a student-run group, there are many firsts for our members, and learning the ins and outs of branding is one of them for all of us. Mentor involvement is crucial to the success of our marketing effort and the whole team, so we give many thanks to the adults that help point us in the right direction.

Playing in space is technically challenging, certainly, but is also very expensive.

In addition, our electronics and structures teams have been working diligently to begin chassis design. Given that our chassis will be made out of 3D printed plastic, with totally different characteristics than the standard metal ones that are typically used for CubeSats, we will be designing it from the ground up. This means that we must design our chassis to fit around the satellite’s electronics systems, which is a complex and challenging task. Next week, representatives from the electronics, structures, and management teams will teleconference with GomSpace (our electronics and camera provider) to learn more about integration between the electronics system and chassis. With that soon, as well as more work from team members to learn Solidworks (the CAD program being used for chassis design) and CircuitMaker, the upcoming week should quite a busy one.

There’s no doubt that designing, building, and launching a satellite into space is a great achievement, but it’s been done hundreds of times before. So when a group of students came together with the intention of doing so, our first question was “how can we set ourselves apart?” The purpose of the CubeSat design specifications is to make it easier to be able to launch satellites on a budget without having to go through a full clearance process, so long as the satellite meets preapproved specs. As such, the rules don’t allow for a whole lot of variability.
However, as we conducted research, we realized that one thing they do allow is something that has never been done before: the use of a plastic 3D-printed chassis. This was perfect: it allowed us to set ourselves apart from other CubeSats and gave our design team total control over the chassis.

This was perfect: it allowed us to set ourselves apart from other CubeSats

As a member of the structures department of the RAHS Satellite Mission Team, I’ve had the incredible experience over the last several months of working to make this aspiration a reality. We’ve done everything from materials research to business outreach to actually drawing the chassis itself using CAD software. All of these have been unparalleled opportunities for learning, and the entire team is looking forward to what is to come

Help support our cause

Our Indiegogo page will be live soon. In the mean time, please contact us directly.

Our Partners

  • Boeing
  • www.planetaryresources.com/#home-intro
  • https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/smallsats/elana/index.html
  • Near Space Corporation
  • BEARS
Main menu