PROVIDENCE, RI, 02/01/17 — Brown Space Engineering (BSE), a team of Brown University undergraduate students, is very excited to announce that our first satellite, EQUiSat, will be launched to and deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2018 as part of the ELaNa-23 mission. In 2014, we received a guarantee for a launch as part of NASA’s fifth round of educational launch initiative. We can now share that in Q2 of 2018, we will be launching to the ISS with a NASA-contracted private space company. Our deployment will occur in Q3, where we will be placed into an ISS orbit of 400 km altitude and 52˚ inclination. This orbit is ideal for our mission as it gives us the most potential visibility without sacrificing mission duration.
This announcement validates nearly six years of hard work by Brown undergraduate students in the design, development and manufacturing of EQUiSat, our 1U, 1.3kg CubeSat. The aim of our mission is to help cross the accessibility divide of space by developing a low-cost, open source system that will enable people to interact with the skies above them in a completely new way. Our satellite has three main capabilities. It will be brighter than most of the stars in the sky (as bright as a magnitude 3 star), within earshot of amateur radio users, and will be testing experimental battery technology for our expected mission duration of three to six months. The entire team is thrilled to help propel our school into the final frontier.
We wanted to build the entire assembly for $5,000 to push the limits of affordable space based technology. To accomplish this, we’ve been using many of the resources available to us at Brown to lower the cost of spaceflight. Over the past several years, we have designed and assembled our own spacecraft using simple and inexpensive, yet reliable parts. We have milled out our custom chassis from a single block of aluminum, a process that can take up to 60 hours. We have designed and fabricated our own solar panels and found innovative solutions to protect them from harsh temperatures. We have simulated and modeled the optics of our LED array to ensure their light will reach eager onlookers staring up from the center of Providence. We have figured out how to connect with universities and individuals over HAM radio as EQUiSat orbits our planet every 90 minutes at nearly five miles per second.
In the following months, we will be doing everything we can to ensure the success of our mission. In early March we will be proceeding with the first round of assembly testing to validate our design. In this series of rigorous tests, the satellite will undergo intense vibrations and accelerations to replicate the extreme launch environment. Vacuum and thermal testing will be performed to help us ensure that the assembly is capable of surviving for an extended period of time once in orbit.
About Brown Space Engineering
Formally known as the Brown CubeSat team, Brown Space Engineering has around fifty members and has been working on the development of EQUiSat for the past six years. After originally coming up with a concept for EQUiSat during a course on Space Systems Design, the team applied and received a guaranteed launch with NASA. In previous years, we’ve worked closely with the West Broadway Middle School, holding weekly workshops that introduce children of all ages to some of the physics and engineering concepts behind spaceflight. This year, we’ll be opening up our program to a number of local Providence schools. We’re also planning on launching and recovering a balloon from the edge of space, with the first 360˚ camera to reach such heights.
If you are interested in helping support our mission to make space accessible for the masses, you can learn how to donate to our ongoing fundraising campaign here.