A Satellite Launch?

Prototype CubeSat ADC consisting of three levels of PCBS with metal wheels inbetween for the ADCs

The BLUEsat Satellite team and UNSW BioSphere are working hard towards their new mission, launching a payload with cyanobacteria in the AIAA Rocketry rocket at THUNDA 2019. The AIAA launch is giving us the chance to test out our preliminary designs and gather information, with each subsystem team having slightly different goals. We’re on a tight timeline – the launch is on April 17th!

GreenSat and BioSphere Payload

GreenSat, in partnership with Biosphere, is looking forward to the opportunity to work with the AIAA society to perform preliminary exercises prior to the final launch. Our goal is to test and measure the performance of bacteria under high levels of rocket vibration and see if there is an adverse effect on the number of bacteria on the payload. We also aim to test how well a simple passive thermal system is, how our sensors perform at high altitudes and vibrations, and finally how our system performs with the other subsystems. Our system will take and store data on the current temperature, humidity and pressure inside the payload cabin.

ADCS Subsystem

The ADCS team is taking advantage of this chance to take some measurements of the strength of the magnetic field at high altitudes. We need these measurements to calculate the proportional gain that we apply to the system because the magnetorquer we are building has a proportional control system. We’ll be measuring the strength of the magnetic field, the acceleration and angular rate in three directions (x, y, and z naturally) and saving it to an SD card. The AIAA launch also gives the ADCS team a chance to see how the forces in the rocket launch will affect the PCBs we design. The subsystem that we design for the satellite will be subject to high g forces during launch, so we need to be sure that our boards don’t break because of the force and vibrations. The acceleration and angular rate data we record will allow us to see exactly how much force the satellite undergoes.

the old adcs satellite system hanging in the centre of the image, lit up with LEDs with people looking at it. Not the same one we're using for the launch
The Old ADCS Magnetorquer at BLUEsat’s 2018 Showcase. Photo: Ryan Stuart

Power Subsystem

The satellite launch in April will also be a great opportunity for the power team to test out the full power subsystem. The power subsystem will be used to supply the rest of the satellite using Li-Ion batteries. It will also feature a photovoltaics system in this launch, which has a small number of solar panels, MPPT, and a battery management system. The primary purpose of this is to test the robustness of the PV system to the rigours of launch. The power system will also log data on power consumption, voltage, and current from the other subsystems of the satellite.

Keep a look out for more information about the results from the launch in the next couple of months, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter to get notified about these updates!

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