Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Aug.11.2020

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

** Univ. Southern California students to build CubeSats in partnership with Lockheed Martin and Momentus. For the La Jument project, students in  USC’s SERC (Space Engineering Research Center) nanosatellite program will assemble four spacecraft using payloads with the LM’s  SmartSat technology.  This technology uses a

software-defined satellite architecture on both their payload and bus. SmartSat lets satellite operators quickly change missions while in orbit with the simplicity of starting, stopping or uploading new applications.

The system is powered by the NVIDIA® Jetson™ platform built on the CUDA-X™ capable software stack and supported by the NVIDIA JetPack™ software development kit (SDK), delivering powerful AI at the edge computing capabilities to unlock advanced image and digital signal processing.

The spacecraft will launch over the next two years:

The first of the four La Jument nanosatellites is a student-designed and built 1.5U CubeSat that will be launched with a SmartSat payload to test the complete system from ground to space, including ground station communications links and commanding SmartSat infrastructure while in-orbit. The second is a 3U nanosat, the size of three small milk cartons stacked on top of each other, with optical payloads connected to SmartSat that will allow AI/ML in-orbit testing. Finally, two 6U CubeSats are being designed jointly with USC that will be launched mid-2022. The pair will launch together and incorporate future research from USC and Lockheed Martin, including new SmartSat apps, sensors and bus technologies.

Momentus has arranged for the first CubeSat to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for Feb. 2021. A Momentus space tug will take it to a 550 km high sun synchronous orbit.

More about the project:

La Jument nanosatellite rendering. Courtesy: University of Southern California & LM

** TechEdSat-10 deployed “exo-brake” de-orbit sail: TechEdSat-10 Deploys from the Space Station | NASA. Discussed here earlier, the TechEdSat-10 cubesat was developed by NASA Ames in collaboration with student teams at San Jose State University and the University of Idaho. The 10th in a series of technology demo spacecraft, the 6U CubeSat tested several devices including the Exo-Brake,

a tension-based, flexible braking device resembling a cross-parachute that deploys from the rear of a satellite to increase the drag. It is a de-orbit device that replaces the more complicated rocket-based systems that would normally be employed during the de-orbit phase of re-entry.

Here are four photos showing the deployment of the chute:

“TechEdSat-10’s exo-brake precision de-orbit technology demonstration deploying in orbit around Earth.” Credits: NASA

** Successful demonstration of HARP earth imaging on a CubeSat. Cubesat demonstrates Earth science instrument – SpaceNews.  The HyperAngular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP) device,  discussed here last year, was developed by Utah State and Univ. Maryland at Baltimore County teams. The goal was to measure the microphysical properties of cloud water and ice particles. Since its deployment from the ISS last February, the HARP has proven this capability.

The three-unit cubesat is managed by the Space Dynamics Lab (SDL) of Utah State University, which built the spacecraft, while the payload was developed and is operated by the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). The payload achieved “first light” in April and took its first images in May.

Tim Neilsen, program manager for HARP at SDL, said the spacecraft demonstrates that cubesats can provide useful data in the Earth sciences. “The application of space-based Earth observation technology has historically been the domain of large satellites,” he said in a statement. “HARP helps to confirm that miniaturized sensors on small satellites can provide a high degree of fidelity at a fraction of the cost and time it takes to build larger satellites.”

The instrument’s utility comes from its ability to measure the size distribution of cloud droplets, which can provide information on the properties of ice and water clouds. That can, in turn, improve modeling of aerosol processes and help reduce uncertainties in climate modeling.

A larger system called HARP2 is to be mounted on NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystems (PACE) spacecraft to launch in 2022.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-222 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • German Satellite Demonstrates Orbit Control on 1U CubeSat
  • AMSAT CubeSat Simulator Now Transmits SSTV
  • AMSAT-UK OSCAR Satellite QSO Party Ongoing
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

See also: Radio Amateur Takes Part in Successful Commercial Spaceflight to ISS – ARRL

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Launch industry panel + SmallSat preview – Space News

SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust talks with executives of several launch companies about the state of the smallsat launch sector. Panelists include:

Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab
Brad Schneider, chief revenue officer of Firefly Aerospace
Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit

The webinar begins with a brief interview with SmallSat conference organizer Marianne Sidwell about how to get the most out of this year’s virtual Small Satellite Conference.

The session concludes with a SpaceNews reporter roundtable about what to expect in the week ahead.

** SN @ SmallSat: Smallsat builders panel + show wrap-up – Space News

SpaceNews Staff Writer Caleb Henry and Silicon Valley correspondent Debra Werner lead a panel discussion with a cross section of smallsat builders. Panelists include:

– Marco Villa, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems COO
– Brian Rider, LeoStella CTO
– F. Brent Abbott, NanoAvionics US CEO
– Craig Clark, AAC Clyde Space founder and chief strategy officer
– Tim Lynch, L3Harris Technologies Space and Airborne Systems Multi-Domain Architecture Group executive director
– Chester Gillmore, Planet vice president of spacecraft development and manufacturing

The webinar concludes with a 15-minute SpaceNews reporters roundtable on key takeaways from this year’s Small Satellite Conference.

** Preparing CySat 1: A Look at Iowa State University’s First CubeSat

** A Methodology for Successful University Graduate CubeSat Programs

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