Friday, November 27, 2009
Cube Satellites are built around a 10 x 10 x 10 cm chassis, and a baseline mass of 1 kg. These are Nano-satellites, and are designed for amateurs and students to build. Near the bottom of this post are three examples of nearly professional builds from the past, many other projects and resources can be found at the cubesat web page: CubeSat. Anyone who reads the Make blog, or who keeps track of the developments in electronics, knows that there are several small electronics platforms that are both inexpensive, and simple to use. Perhaps even the simple Arduino hardware, often used in projects reported in that blog, could work well in a nano satellite.
There has also been a fascinating and ongoing discussion about the past, present, and future of micro and nano satellites over at Unmanned Spaceflight.
For example, one user there suggested this (perhaps somewhat unrealistic, he thinks) plan for a space telescope:
Here are some projects based on this platform:
"Delfi-C3 is the first nanosatellite student project from the Delft University of Technology. Delfi-C3 is a battery-less CubeSat with multiple processors and transmitters. Delfi-C3 was launched from the SHAR range of Sriharikota in India on the PSLV-C9 launch vehicle on April 28, 2008 03:53 UTC into LEO. SFL/UTIAS provided launch integration services for multiple CubeSats with their X-POD line of CubeSat deployers. Telemetry from Delfi-C3 was acquired and decoded within a few hours of launch. The Delfi-C3 offers the free RASCAL telemetry decoding software on their website."
"Libertad-1 is Colombia's first satellite. It was developed by a novice team of only 8 members with no prior satellite experience at the Universidad Sergio Arboleda at a total cost of under $250k. Cal Poly handled launch integration, etc. A modern-day Sputnik, Libertad-1 was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 17, 2007 into LEO. LTAN: 22:30 UTC, 98 degrees inclination, 1hr 39min period, 787.5km apogee, 659.56km perigee, 0.0090 eccentricity. Libertad-1 functioned flawlessly, transmitting continuously without any reset events for the 34-day duration of its mission. The mission was terminated when the primary batteries were exhausted (Libertad-1 had no solar arrays). The Libertad-1 missions is considered a great success in Colombia."
"TU-pSAT1 is ITU SSDTL's first CubeSat. ITU-pSAT1 carries a camera, magnetometer, accelerometers and other payload instruments. This is the first Rev D CubeSat Kit launched. ITU-pSAT1 has multiple PIC microcontrollers functioning as distributed payload processors. These processors interface to the SD Card in the Pumpkin FM430 via the CubeSat Kit Bus. When the FM430 C&DH needs to transmit data collected by the payload processors, it reads the SD Card via the EFFS-THIN flash file system software that is included in each CubeSat Kit. ITU-pSAT1 also carries a Microhard MHX425 transceiver operating in the UHF band -- all of Microhard's newer MHX units (MHX425, MHX920, MHX2420 et. al.) run a version of Pumpkin's Salvo RTOS that was customized by Microhard for use with the Hitachi SH2 processor. ITU-pSAT1 was launched from India on the PSLV-C14 along with three other CubeSats on September 23, 2009 into LEO."