It’s been a while since our last update, but the BSE team is still hard at work! In December, EQUIsat deorbited after almost 2.5 years in space. Over the past year we have also continued work on our 2nd CubeSat, PVDX (remotely). In April, we received approval of our launch application from NASA! Our R&D team also has a number of projects underway–including a new rocketry program and being one of 7 schools to receive a grant from NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge! Finally, with the new year we elected a new set of leaders.
EQUIsat’s journey has finally come to an end, but not before leaving a lasting impact on many. What started as a class project in 2011 has flourished into an inspiration to learn about space for hundreds of members. For stats on EQUIsat’s amazing life click here.
In the past year, a lot has changed with PVDX. While NASA hasn’t given exact details, we’ll be looking to go to space mid-2024. After looking at how to make our mission more applicable to both NASA’s goals and our own, we believe the second iteration PVDX mission will be even better than the original!
One of the primary changes to our original mission is a new research study of experimental solar panels. BSE is teaming up with Dr. Nitin Padture’s research lab at Brown, who have been developing Perovskite Solar Cells. We hope to test these cells in-orbit for the first time and to monitor their performance and degradation via electrical and visual data collection.
The outreach mission of PVDX remains the same–to create an interactive display that the community can send messages to and see working via PVDX’s arm and camera. We hope to engage young minds in the Providence community and beyond by teaching them simple “coding” in order to interact with the display via the BSE app.
The Avionics Power team has completed preliminary designs for the charging, power point tracking, and electrical testing systems and is beginning prototyping using Arduinos and breadboards this summer. The Avionics Radio team is now finishing up reverse engineering the digital designs of an S-band radio design from an academic paper.
The Structures team has been doing machine shop trainings (with social distancing) and beginning to work on the chassis. They also have been hard at work designing PVDX’s arm, which will allow PVDX to image the Perovskite Solar Cells and the display’s messages. Flight Software has begun combing through EQUIsatOS and looking into how to design PVDXOS with the strengths of EQUIsatOS but fixing its weaknesses.
Most importantly, BSE is staying true to its roots of making space accessible. All of our code and designs continue to be fully open-source, and all of our parts continue to be commercial, off the shelf. Contributions are never expected, but always appreciated! And, of course, our work continues to be driven primarily by undergraduates with a passion for space.
Due to restrictions on in-person activities, R&D had to put the usual balloon program and rocketry program on pause. Instead, they teamed up with the RISD Space Design Club and entered the NASA BIG Idea Challenge. The challenge provides funding to university teams with proposals that tackle the issue of lunar dust that can sneak its way into and damage astronauts’ tools and suits. The proposal involved designing space suit layers to prevent lunar dust from weakening the space suits, especially at creases of the suit (such as by the knees). Not only did they enter, but they were one of just seven schools to win funding for their proposal! This project will culminate with a final presentation and forum hosted by NASA in November.
Check out their proposal video here for more technical details.
R&D has also started up our rocketry program again. Right now they are planning and designing with the hope to get building and launching rockets in competitions as in-person activities become allowed. If you’d like to help us with the startup costs so we can get building sooner, we’d greatly appreciate it!
Lauren, Sebastian, Leela, Melissa, and Sophia have been at the helm and will continue on next year. Our new Project Manager is Prashanth Ramireddy (Class of ‘22, Computer Engineering). Our new Treasurer and Structures Lead is Mpumi Tshabalala (Class of ‘23, Mechanical Engineering). Our new R&D Lead is Noah Bingham (Class of ‘24, Biochemistry).
Finally, a huge thank you to our outgoing leaders: Sarang Mani (Project Management), Molly Pearson (Structures), and Anthony Capobianco (R&D). They were a huge part of securing NASA launch approval and keeping the club going remotely. We wish them luck in their endeavors after Brown!
Have a great summer!