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

Matthew N. Henry

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

Stratus, named for its cloud-imaging mission, will be carried to the house station,
two hundred miles over Earth, in a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket. The
Dragon will dock to the ISS.

“Stratus will be unloaded by the crew, then put in the Kibo Module’s airlock, where by
the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System robotic arm will shift the
satellite into the correct placement and deploy it into house,” stated Brad King, Michigan Tech’s Henes Endowed Professor in Space Programs, who has served as Aerospace Organization advisor since learners arrived to him with the
plan to variety a workforce approximately two decades ago.

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

At the time correctly deployed, Stratus will be the University’s second orbiting nanosatellite. The to start with, Oculus-ASR, was released from Cape Canaveral in June 2019. A further satellite, Auris, built to monitor communications emissions from geostationary satellites, has
cleared program thought evaluate in the style and improvement phase of the Air Power
Research Lab College Nanosatellite Software (AFRL UNP). 

Bill Predebon, J.S. Endowed Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering
Mechanics in the College or university of Engineering, welcomed the information of a second satellite launch with praise for King and Aerospace
Organization workforce customers. “It is amazing that Michigan Tech will have a second scholar-developed
satellite in house next calendar year.”

“It is a testomony to the creativity, ingenuity, and hands-on capacity of our learners.
I am so happy of them.”Bill Predebon

Stratus will use infrared imagery to acquire cloud details that can validate and enhance
numerical weather models.
Michigan Tech Aerospace Workforce Software Supervisor Troy Maust, a fourth-calendar year computer engineering major, has been doing the job on the CubeSat challenge for about a calendar year. 

This mission has been in the is effective for a lot extended,” he stated. “As with Oculus, I estimate
far more than two hundred learners and alumni have been part of this mission it would not be achievable
without them. I am delighted to see these decades of hard function shell out off.”

The 10-by-10-by-thirty-centimeter, 4.4-kilogram Stratus CubeSat is significantly smaller
than the 70-kilogram Oculus-ASR, a microsat which steps fifty-by-fifty-by-80 centimeters.
But each, as properly as Auris, are classed in the broader group of nanosatellites,
the craft that represent an critical improvement in house sector traits. 

“In the past, satellites have been huge, multimillion-dollar tasks,” Maust stated.
“While huge satellites are nonetheless getting developed, there is a change toward applying several
smaller spacecraft in a constellation. Besides decreasing the overall charge, constellations
can give protection distribute about a greater location. Stratus is an case in point of applying this
state of mind for weather satellites.” 

Future Measures for Stratus: FlatSats and Working day in the Daily life

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

The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has impacted college access about the planet, and
Michigan Tech is no exception. Maust stated a lot remains to be carried out. But as Huskies
who relentlessly labored to
put together Oculus-ASR for its launch can attest, this isn’t the to start with time the Aerospace Organization has contended with
unexpectedly condensed timelines.  

System amount tests will get location as soon as campus is able to reopen. “We’ll keep on
with FlatSat one and 2,” Maust stated. The names are explanatory and the actions are essential
right before the CubeSat is totally assembled. Spacecraft components are laid flat on the
workbench and related to the CubeSat’s subsystems to verify that the program is effective
alongside one another as a full.

“Next arrives DITL one and 2, or Working day In The Daily life,” stated Maust. Again, the identify is apt.
“The exams simulate the actions our assembled spacecraft will accomplish in a working day, with
the remaining check jogging for a entire 24 hours,” Maust stated. “Vibration and thermal vacuum
tests will also be carried out to assure the spacecraft can stand up to the harsh ailments
of launch and house.”

The approach of coming up with, making and flying a spacecraft is multifaceted, which
is why the Aerospace Organization, one of the major at Michigan Tech, welcomes
customers from disciplines throughout campus and is structured into quite a few subteams. Though Stratus program-amount tests is getting
location, another subteam will be doing the job on procuring any essential Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) licensing.
“This can be a prolonged approach and must be began properly in progress of launch, as we will
not be authorized to keep on without the good licensing,” Maust stated.

In 2016, Michigan Tech was picked to fly Stratus as an auxiliary payload. In early
December 2019, a
NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center workforce executed a thorough significant style evaluate,
or CDR. “While we experienced a number of nicks and dings from the function, as is popular all through
CDR, we passed and ended up able to shift on to program integration in planning for an
impending launch,” King stated. 

“Winning the NASA launch was wonderful information, but our celebration was small. All of a sudden our
’to-do’ record has gotten a whole lot extended and the stakes have gotten a whole lot larger.”

“I know these learners can deal with no matter what challenges lie waiting concerning listed 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 general public exploration college, dwelling to far more than
7,000 learners from fifty four nations. Founded in 1885, the College delivers far more than
one hundred twenty undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technological innovation, engineering,
forestry, business and economics, health and fitness professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a number of miles from Lake Superior.

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