EQUiSat has now been in orbit for over a year. During this time, BSE has been envisioning its next challenge.
In Fall 2019, we finally introduced the concept for our next satellite.

PVDX: Planetary Visuals and Dynamics eXperiment

Overview

Primary:
To serve as a platform for direct interaction with space and lower the barriers of entry to the aerospace industry by increasing the accessibility of satellite design and construction.

Secondary:
To test the first open-source robotic arm to be used In space.

The primary payload of PVDX is the robotic arm. The arm will possess three degrees of freedom and will feature a visible light camera. This enables it to take photos of the satellite and its surroundings.

The robotic arm will be paired with a dot-matrix display mounted on a side of the satellite, to create the ‘interactive’ component of our mission. BSE will enable anyone to upload and run their own sequences of commands on PVDX to control its arm, display, and camera. After their “program” is uploaded and run, the camera will capture and send down an image showing the results of their program. The image could show what’s on the display, an image of Earth, or any other view that was programmed!

An example program might move the arm such that the camera views the display, perform some computations on the satellite’s sensor readings, print the result on the display, and finally take a photo once the earth is in the background.

In November 2019, we submitted our application to NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa program. We will hear back from NASA regarding the status of our application in Spring 2020 (fingers crossed for approval in the meantime!).

We aim to launch PVDX in mid-2023. To that end, based on our experience with EQUiSat’s integration and testing process, we hope to have a minimum viable satellite by mid-2021.

PVDX

3U

6 Li-ion batteries

1 S-band and 1 UHF radio

2 processors, with one dedicated to camera data

EQUiSat

1U

2 Li-ion and 4 LiFePO4 batteries

1 UHF radio

1 processor

Progress

Our Manufacturing team recently finished their first version of a flight chassis. It’s an especially modular design that splits the satellite into two halves about 15 cm long, and gives us easy access to satellite components.

They’re not done though! As we iterate on our other subsystems, changes to the chassis will be necessary. Additionally, the Manufacturing team will be working closely with the Payload team on designing the robotics arm.

Our Avionics team has a detailed block diagram of PVDX subsystems ready. Now, they’re working on prototyping their PCBs.

Our Software team is hard at work, readying themselves to face PVDX’s many technical challenges. Stay tuned for updates!

Our Payload team is hard at work, familiarizing themselves with robotics and prototyping potential arm designs. Stay tuned for updates!