And Then There Were Two: MTU’s Next Student-built Satellite Set to Launch in 2021

NASA has slated Michigan Technological University’s second university student-developed satellite
for a March 2021 deployment from the Intercontinental Space Station (ISS).

Stratus, named for its cloud-imaging mission, will be carried to the house station,
200 miles above Earth, in a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule on a Falcon nine rocket. The
Dragon will dock to the ISS.

“Stratus will be unloaded by the crew, then positioned in the Kibo Module’s airlock, in which
the Japanese Experiment Module Distant Manipulator Technique robotic arm will shift the
satellite into the right posture and deploy it into house,” stated Brad King, Michigan Tech’s Henes Endowed Professor in Space Devices, who has served as Aerospace Organization advisor considering that learners came to him with the
concept to sort a group approximately two decades in the past.

Hands hold a metal and plastic cubesat in a laboratory with a blurred background.
Not challenging to see how CubeSats get their identify. Stratus is a 3U spacecraft, which indicates it’s composed of a few models. This photo was
taken in tumble 2019.

Once productively deployed, Stratus will be the University’s second orbiting nanosatellite. The to start with, Oculus-ASR, was introduced from Cape Canaveral in June 2019. Another satellite, Auris, developed to keep an eye on communications emissions from geostationary satellites, has
cleared technique thought review in the style and design and development phase of the Air Drive
Exploration Lab College Nanosatellite System (AFRL UNP). 

Bill Predebon, J.S. Endowed Chair of the Office of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering
Mechanics in the Higher education of Engineering, welcomed the news of a second satellite start with praise for King and Aerospace
Organization group users. “It is amazing that Michigan Tech will have a second university student-developed
satellite in house future 12 months.”

“It is a testomony to the creative imagination, ingenuity, and palms-on ability of our learners.
I am so proud of them.”Bill Predebon

Stratus will use infrared imagery to get cloud knowledge that can validate and boost
numerical climate models.
Michigan Tech Aerospace Group System Supervisor Troy Maust, a fourth-12 months computer system engineering important, has been functioning on the CubeSat challenge for about a 12 months. 

This mission has been in the functions for substantially extended,” he stated. “As with Oculus, I estimate
extra than 200 learners and alumni have been section of this mission it would not be doable
with out them. I am delighted to see these years of challenging get the job done spend off.”

The ten-by-ten-by-thirty-centimeter, four.four-kilogram Stratus CubeSat is noticeably lesser
than the 70-kilogram Oculus-ASR, a microsat which steps 50-by-50-by-80 centimeters.
But both of those, as properly as Auris, are classed in the broader category of nanosatellites,
the craft that characterize an vital development in house industry developments. 

“In the earlier, satellites have been large, multimillion-dollar jobs,” Maust stated.
“While large satellites are however remaining developed, there is a shift toward working with a number of
lesser spacecraft in a constellation. Apart from decreasing the overall expense, constellations
can offer protection spread about a larger place. Stratus is an case in point of working with this
way of thinking for climate satellites.” 

Up coming Steps for Stratus: FlatSats and Day in the Lifetime

“All of this will maintain us occupied until finally our December 2020 handover date.”Troy Maust

The COVID-19 international pandemic has influenced university entry all over the world, and
Michigan Tech is no exception. Maust stated substantially continues to be to be accomplished. But as Huskies
who relentlessly labored to
put together Oculus-ASR for its start can attest, this isn’t the to start with time the Aerospace Organization has contended with
unexpectedly condensed timelines.  

Technique degree screening will consider position as quickly as campus is in a position to reopen. “We’ll proceed
with FlatSat 1 and two,” Maust stated. The names are explanatory and the methods are vital
in advance of the CubeSat is fully assembled. Spacecraft components are laid flat on the
workbench and related to the CubeSat’s subsystems to validate that the technique functions
alongside one another as a full.

“Next comes DITL 1 and two, or Day In The Lifetime,” stated Maust. Once more, the identify is apt.
“The tests simulate the steps our assembled spacecraft will perform in a working day, with
the final test running for a comprehensive 24 hrs,” Maust stated. “Vibration and thermal vacuum
screening will also be done to guarantee the spacecraft can stand up to the severe ailments
of start and house.”

The method of designing, developing and traveling a spacecraft is multifaceted, which
is why the Aerospace Organization, 1 of the biggest at Michigan Tech, welcomes
users from disciplines throughout campus and is organized into various subteams. Although Stratus technique-degree screening is using
position, an additional subteam will be functioning on procuring any vital Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) and Countrywide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) licensing.
“This can be a long method and will have to be begun properly in progress of start, as we will
not be authorized to proceed with out the correct licensing,” Maust stated.

In 2016, Michigan Tech was selected to fly Stratus as an auxiliary payload. In early
December 2019, a
NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Heart group performed a extensive critical style and design review,
or CDR. “While we experienced a several nicks and dings from the occasion, as is popular through
CDR, we passed and were being in a position to shift on to technique integration in preparing for an
approaching start,” King stated. 

“Winning the NASA start was wonderful news, but our celebration was quick. All of a sudden our
’to-do’ listing has gotten a great deal extended and the stakes have gotten a great deal greater.”

“I know these learners can handle regardless of what issues lie ready in between here and
orbit. Like it was with Oculus, we will have our major celebration when we see the rocket
heading skyward.”Brad King

Michigan Technological College is a community study university, house to extra than
seven,000 learners from fifty four countries. Founded in 1885, the College features extra than
120 undergraduate and graduate diploma programs in science and technological innovation, engineering,
forestry, enterprise and economics, overall health professions, humanities, arithmetic, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Higher Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a several miles from Lake Superior.