Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Apr.8.2020

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** Cubesat program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, wins grants from NASA lunar exploration technology program: NASA Small Satellite Program Selects Cal Poly to Help Develop New Technology for Lunar Exploration Missions – Cal Poly News

Cal Poly will participate in a pair of two-year projects, both in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The grants are valued at $200,000. The first, under the SmallSat Propulsion for Lunar Missions area, will team Cal Poly with UC Irvine for a project titled “Variable Specific Impulse Electrospray Thrusters for SmallSat Propulsion.”

The project will build on existing propulsion technology that uses electrostatic charges to propel liquid droplets to generate thrust. It will further develop and test a more-versatile system capable of operating in either a high-thrust mode when needed, or more efficient low-thrust mode to conserve fuel and save weight. This technology will add mission flexibility to electrospray propulsion systems while keeping within the size suited constraints of small spacecraft.

“Cal Poly will be providing a design for a CubeSat to test the thrusters, including an electrical subsystem that is capable of powering the thrusters,” Bellardo said. “UCI will be focusing more on the thruster side. Cal Poly will be focused on the spacecraft side.”

The second proposal, under NASA’s Advanced Electrical Power Subsystem and Thermal Management Technology area, pairs Cal Poly with Cal State Los Angeles for a project titled “An Additively Manufactured Deployable Radiator with Oscillating Heat Pipes to Enable High Power Lunar CubeSats.”

Compact CubeSats do not efficiently dissipate heat, yet lunar missions will demand even more electrical power, which produces heat as a byproduct that could damage core components of a small satellite. The equipment needed for longer duration missions far from Earth orbit includes more powerful radio transmitters while simultaneously dealing with the harsh cislunar thermal environment. The grant will fund the development of a deployable radiator with flexible oscillating heat pipes to provide more efficient heat transfer than traditional thermal straps.

“The more power a spacecraft needs, the more heat gets generated — both during power generation and consumption,” Bellardo said. “Radiators are part of the solution to keeping the spacecraft cooler. The technology is applicable to other small spacecraft as well.”

More about the Cal Poly projects and about lunar technology projects at other universities selected by NASA: NASA Selects Universities for Collaborative Development | NASA.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-096 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Ham Radio Book Featured in “Story Time From Space” on ISS
  • NO-104 / PSAT2 Status
  • VUCC Standings for April 2020
  • AMSAT Awards During Stay-at-Home Orders
  • Radio Amateurs of Canada Offers New Online Amateur Radio Course
  • AMSAT South Africa Reports Good Progress with AfriCUBE
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Exploring CubeSats!MIT Full STEAM Ahead

** SunRISE – NASA’s new mission to study giant space weather stormsYour Space Journey

NASA has just selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms into space. The new mission is called SunRISE, which stands for Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment. This mission will ultimately help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through. The principal investigator of SunRISE, Dr. Justin Kasper, joins us to discuss this incredible mission. Justin is also a professor of Space Science & Engineering for the University of Michigan, where he designs sensors for spacecraft that explore extreme environments in space from the surface of the Sun to the outer edges of the solar system. SunRISE is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope. NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023.

** 2019 IAF Global Technical Symposium – Small Satellite MissionsIAF Young Professionals

The Small Satellite Missions Global Technical Session (GTS) is collaboration between the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Small Satellite Missions Symposium and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Workforce Development/Young Professionals Programme Committee. This session is unique in that it allows for sharing of information on a global scale with presenters and audience both at the IAC venue and online at their home/work/university locations.

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