June 3, 2020


Connecting People

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

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

Stratus, named for its cloud-imaging mission, will be carried to the area station,
two hundred 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 placed in the Kibo Module’s airlock, the place
the Japanese Experiment Module Distant Manipulator Process robotic arm will go the
satellite into the proper placement and deploy it into area,” explained Brad King, Michigan Tech’s Henes Endowed Professor in Space Devices, who has served as Aerospace Organization advisor considering the fact that students came to him with the
plan to kind a group nearly two decades ago.

Not hard to see how CubeSats get their identify. Stratus is a 3U spacecraft, which usually means it’s composed of three models. This picture was
taken in drop 2019.

When effectively deployed, Stratus will be the University’s next orbiting nanosatellite. The very first, Oculus-ASR, was released from Cape Canaveral in June 2019. A further satellite, Auris, designed to watch communications emissions from geostationary satellites, has
cleared program concept assessment in the structure and advancement phase of the Air Force
Investigate Lab University Nanosatellite Program (AFRL UNP). 

Invoice Predebon, J.S. Endowed Chair of the Section of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering
Mechanics in the Higher education of Engineering, welcomed the news of a next satellite launch with praise for King and Aerospace
Organization group members. “It is remarkable that Michigan Tech will have a next university student-crafted
satellite in area future calendar year.”

“It is a testomony to the creative imagination, ingenuity, and arms-on capacity of our students.
I am so happy of them.”Invoice Predebon

Stratus will use infrared imagery to get cloud knowledge that can validate and boost
numerical weather products.
Michigan Tech Aerospace Crew Program Manager Troy Maust, a fourth-calendar year laptop engineering big, has been functioning on the CubeSat job for about a calendar year. 

This mission has been in the performs for a lot for a longer time,” he explained. “As with Oculus, I estimate
additional than two hundred students and alumni have been aspect of this mission it would not be doable
with no them. I am delighted to see these many years of hard operate pay off.”

The ten-by-ten-by-30-centimeter, 4.4-kilogram Stratus CubeSat is considerably smaller sized
than the 70-kilogram Oculus-ASR, a microsat which actions 50-by-50-by-eighty centimeters.
But both equally, as nicely as Auris, are classed in the broader group of nanosatellites,
the craft that signify an critical advancement in area sector developments. 

“In the past, satellites have been massive, multimillion-dollar initiatives,” Maust explained.
“While massive satellites are nevertheless staying crafted, there is a shift toward employing several
smaller sized spacecraft in a constellation. Apart from decreasing the overall price tag, constellations
can present protection spread over a bigger location. Stratus is an case in point of employing this
frame of mind for weather satellites.” 

Up coming Measures for Stratus: FlatSats and Day in the Existence

“All of this will hold us fast paced right up until our December 2020 handover date.”Troy Maust

The COVID-19 world pandemic has afflicted college accessibility all-around the earth, and
Michigan Tech is no exception. Maust explained a lot stays to be completed. But as Huskies
who relentlessly labored to
prepare Oculus-ASR for its launch can attest, this isn’t the very first time the Aerospace Organization has contended with
unexpectedly condensed timelines.  

Process stage screening will choose area as quickly as campus is equipped to reopen. “We’ll proceed
with FlatSat 1 and 2,” Maust explained. The names are explanatory and the steps are vital
ahead of the CubeSat is fully assembled. Spacecraft parts are laid flat on the
workbench and related to the CubeSat’s subsystems to validate that the program performs
together as a whole.

“Next arrives DITL 1 and 2, or Day In The Existence,” explained Maust. Yet again, the identify is apt.
“The assessments simulate the actions our assembled spacecraft will conduct in a day, with
the ultimate take a look at operating for a whole 24 hrs,” Maust explained. “Vibration and thermal vacuum
screening will also be executed to make sure the spacecraft can face up to the harsh situations
of launch and area.”

The process of developing, developing and flying a spacecraft is multifaceted, which
is why the Aerospace Organization, a single of the premier at Michigan Tech, welcomes
members from disciplines across campus and is organized into various subteams. Even though Stratus program-stage screening is using
area, another subteam will be functioning on procuring any vital Federal Communications
Fee (FCC) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) licensing.
“This can be a extended process and must be begun nicely in advance of launch, as we will
not be authorized to proceed with no the suitable licensing,” Maust explained.

In 2016, Michigan Tech was selected to fly Stratus as an auxiliary payload. In early
December 2019, a
NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center group executed a extensive important structure assessment,
or CDR. “While we suffered a handful of nicks and dings from the occasion, as is prevalent all through
CDR, we passed and ended up equipped to go on to program integration in preparation for an
upcoming launch,” King explained. 

“Winning the NASA launch was terrific news, but our celebration was quick. Out of the blue our
’to-do’ list has gotten a lot for a longer time and the stakes have gotten a lot larger.”

“I know these students can deal with what ever troubles lie waiting around involving in this article and
orbit. Like it was with Oculus, we will have our major celebration when we see the rocket
heading skyward.”Brad King

Michigan Technological University is a public analysis college, household to additional than
7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers additional than
a hundred and twenty undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technological know-how, engineering,
forestry, business and economics, well being professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Higher Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a handful of miles from Lake Remarkable.