Navigation Links
University of Texas 'Picosatellite' to be launched from space shuttle to begin milestone mission
Date:6/9/2009

AUSTIN, TexasIn an initial step toward the first successful rendezvous and docking of very small satellites without human control, a pair of miniature "picosatellites" built by University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University engineering students will be launched into orbit this month from Space Shuttle Endeavour.

In the process, the students will try to accomplish what only multi-million-dollar space missions have attempted: the autonomous docking and rendezvous of satellites. In this case, they'll be using picosatellites, named for being very compact and lightweight.

The satellites, five-inch cubes weighing seven pounds, will be jettisoned into low-Earth orbit from Space Shuttle Endeavour during the STS-127 mission scheduled for launch June 13. The mission, dubbed LONESTAR, is a collaboration among NASA's Johnson Space Center and the two universities.

"Having this complicated process performed without human control is a great challenge for any spacecraft but more so for picosatellites," said Robert Bishop, chairman of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and principal investigator of the project.

It's the first of four missions planned over eight years that include a gradual build-up to the goal of rendezvous and docking: having the two satellites, or spacecraft, meeting at a desired point in space starting from different locations (the rendezvous portion) and connecting to become a single vehicle (the docking sequence) all without human control.

The goal for the June mission will be to demonstrate undocking from the Space Shuttle and separation of the two picosatellites, which launch as one unit. Then, they will collect several orbits of position data from both hemispheres by testing a new NASA Global Positioning System receiver (DRAGON) aboard the satellites, and then downlink the data to a ground station at the university.

"This is a simple starting point," said Henri Kjellberg, an aerospace engineering graduate student who worked on the project. "Our satellite will determine where it is and send mission data down to a ground station. It does this autonomously, and that's pretty cool because it took a lot of computer programming to make it work."

The university's satellite is aptly named BEVO-1, and the A&M satellite is called AggieSat2. Each school built their satellites independently but to a common interface and worked with an annual budget of $75,000, which is remarkably inexpensive for spacecraft attempting such a task.

Bishop said several multi-million-dollar missions using much larger spacecraft have attempted autonomous rendezvous and docking. He said if the picosatellite project is successful, the design could be used as a platform for less expensive missions in the future.

"What is so special here is that these spacecraft are tiny, so the technology is packed into a small volume. And it's cheap," Bishop said. "Many strategic thinkers are looking towards picospacecraft as the next revolution in space."

The satellites will operate about 185 miles above the Earth's surface but below the altitude of the International Space Station. Kjellberg said its operational lifetime is between three to six months. However, it could remain in orbit for up to a year before falling to earth and burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere.

"We're not adding to the space debris," said Travis Imken, a team member and aerospace engineering junior.

The university's satellite was built under the program called PARADIGM, which stands for Platform for Autonomous Rendezvous And Docking with Innovative GN&C Methods. Future missions of the picosatellites will include the tasks of pointing the satellites in a particular direction, the rendezvous process and the actual docking sequence.

Associate Professor Glenn Lightsey is the co-investigator of the PARADIGM project. Other university students who worked on the picosatellite include: Jahshan Bhatti, who will be an aerospace graduate student in the fall; Kit Kennedy, an aerospace senior; Ron Maglothin, aerospace graduate student; aerospace junior Peter Schulte; and Serena Zhang, an electrical engineering senior.

In December, two more University of Texas at Austin satellites are scheduled to be launched into orbit from Kodiak Island, Alaska aboard a U.S. Air Force Minotaur IV rocket. The student-built nanosatellites (larger than picosatellites but still substantially smaller than traditional ones) are part of the Formation Autonomy Spacecraft with Thrust, Relnay, Attitude, and Crosslink (FASTRAC) program, which uses twin satellites to demonstrate navigation relative to each other.


'/>"/>

Contact: Robert Bishop
rhbishop@mail.utexas.edu
512-471-4596
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology technology :

1. GlaxoSmithKline Recognizes University of Michigans Dr. Daniel F. Hayes as the First Recipient of the Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award
2. BioMarin Licenses Technology From Leading Cystic Fibrosis Research Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco
3. Microchip Biotechnologies, Inc. Secures Exclusive License to Use New University of Alberta Technology for Developing Microfluidic Devices
4. Alliance for Medical Devices, Instrumentation and Diagnostics formed between Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation and Boston University
5. The University of Nottingham in the British Midlands Announces Development of Possible Hepatitis C Vaccine
6. University of Leicester scientists discover technique to help friendly bacteria
7. MichBio Announces Student Career Day at Michigan State University
8. Dr. Thomas Van Dyke Renowned Boston University Professor Joins Imagenetixs Medical Advisory Board
9. University HealthSystem Consortium Chooses SciQuest to Optimize Medical Research Procurement
10. Helix Biopharma announces addition of University of Arizona professor Kenneth Hatch as new medical advisor
11. McGill University Purchases GenVaults Personal Archive System to Manage Rare Cancer Samples
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
University of Texas 'Picosatellite' to be launched from space shuttle to begin milestone mission
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Proove Biosciences, Inc ., ... the launch of the Proove Health Foundation . The Foundation is a ... the use of personalized medicine for tackling the nation’s most-pressing healthcare epidemics. As ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... ... Intelligent Implant Systems announced today that the two-level components for the Revolution™ Spinal ... These components expand the capabilities of the system and allow Revolution™ to be ... 2015, the company has seen significant sales growth in 1Q 2016, and the system ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... 28, 2016 , ... Next week on May 5 at ... technologies for tissue stem cell counting and expansion to gene-editing scientists and other ... CRISPR-based Genome Engineering in Burlington, Massachusetts. , The attention of most gene-editing scientists ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... The Pittcon Organizing ... 2019. Chuck has been a volunteer member of Committee since 1987. Since then, ... board of directors and treasurer and was chairman for both the program and exposition ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016   ... ("LegacyXChange" or the "Company") LegacyXChange is excited ... of its soon to be launched online site for ... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyTLBzmZogV1y2D6bDkBX5g ) will also provide potential shareholders a ... DNA technology to an industry that is notorious for ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... LegacyXChange, Inc. (OTC: LEGX ... Protect are pleased to announce our successful effort to ... of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures against counterfeiting and ... athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured of ongoing proof ... Bill Bollander , CEO states, "By inserting ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... , March 22, 2016 ... research report "Electronic Sensors Market for Consumer Industry by ... & Others), Application (Communication & IT, Entertainment, ... - Global Forecast to 2022", published by ... is expected to reach USD 26.76 Billion ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):