Satellite Development 2012-13

Program Prerequisites:


The Satellite Development Project is the capstone of the AMSE co-curricular space program offerings. Students that apply to be part of this program must have completed at least one year on the VCS ISS project team or have uniquely equivalent experience or skills to qualify to apply to this program.

Program Description

A CubeSat is planned to be developed and launched from the International Space Station’s Japanese Science Module during the 2012-13 school year. This is expected to be the first in the world by a group of high school students.

The students will work with industry professionals that have previously designed, built and launched satellites into space (larger ones). In addition, the students will work as a team to research and design a payload experiment for the satellite.

Students will work on two units in preparation for the launch: A flight unit (the actual unit that get’s launched) and a back-up unit, called the proto-flight unit. This student group will work closely with the school’s Satellite Ground Station Tracking, Control and Telemetry Station Program group at VCS (another AMSE co-curricular program).

The satellite will spend approximately 30-60 days in space before decaying into an orbit back to earth.
In preparation for the 2013 satellite launch, a Satellite Command and Control Ground Station has already been built by a group of ISS students under the direction of Mr. Vavken.

Expected Student Outcome Goals


1.    Learn how to plan, develop, test, document and launch a CubeSat from the International Space Station (ISS).
2.    Students will become familiar with the following:

  • CubeSat Structure - Materials and Mechanical Design
  • Electrical Power Subsystems - Solar panels, Battery Charging Circuitry,   Secondary Batteries, Battery Safety Requirements, Sun Simulator
  • RF Communications - Transceivers and Antennas 
  • Command Telemetry - Uplink and Downlink Command Sequences and Status Telemetry
  • Central Microprocessor -Flight Software
  • Mechanical Deployment Mechanisms - On-off switches, RF Antennas etc.
  • Attitude Determination and Control –to Determine Spin Rate and Attitude and Passive Magnetic Attitude Control.
  • Thermal Control - Thermal Blankets, Paint Patterns
  • Design Integration –Integrate the CubeSat Subsystems
  • Program System Engineering -Ground and Satellite based systems
  • Ground Station Network and the Space System  - CubeSat and ISS Launcher.
  • Aerospace Ground Test Equipment - Mechanical Support Equipment, External Electrical Power Control and Monitoring, Ground Station Simulator including a Command and Telemetry Laptop, On-Orbit Thermal Vacuum Simulator and Clean Room

3.    Develop and produce a photo and video documentary of the entire project.
4.    Present project results at the Annual Spring Cal Poly CubeSat Workshop.
5.    Work as a team.
6.    Use interdisciplinary curricular skills from courses in mathematics, physics, English, PLTW engineering courses, etc.
7.    Learn program management skills.
8.    Honor God in all we do and how we do it.