Yearly Archive 2016

ByPolyOrbite team

Back from the 67th International Astronomical Congress in Mexico!

Last September, PolyOrbite participated in the 67th International Astronomical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara Mexico. The IAC regroups all the actors of the space industry and is held in a different country each year. The congress in divided into two categories of events: the technical sessions and the associated events.
It’s during the technical sessions, and more precisely within the “New Missions Enabled by New Propulsion Technology and Systems” category, that PolyOrbite presented an article on our ion thruster: “Manufacturing Compact Electrospray Thrusters to Deorbit a Nanosatellite”.

The associated events were large assemblies where industry leaders showcase their technological advancements and future projects.

This year, all eyes were on Mars. A few examples are NASA’s presentation on the objectives for their Space Launch System and the European Space Agencies’ moon village concept to replace the International Space Station after 2024. This would facilitate the transition from low earth orbit to Mars.

The most popular event was clearly the long awaited “Mars Plan” announcement by SpaceX CEO Elon musk entitled: “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species”. The event went over the different technologies that will need to be developed to colonize Mars like massive COPV tanks, in-orbit refueling, and rapidly reusable rockets. All this in order to bring the cost of “moving to Mars” under 200 000$ USD.

This year’s AIC included a very large contingency of companies working in the emerging nanosat and CubeSat industries. An Italian company by the name of D-orbit stood out by proposing liquid and solid propulsion systems for CubeSats as well as a CubeSat dispenser capable of delivering up to 27 units of CubeSats.

With the congress now over, we can see two major stories developing in the space industry. Firstly, the race for Mars has officially started and it’s no longer a question of “if we’re going to Mars” but rather “when will we get there”. Secondly, a slow but steady decrease in price for access to space is driving many new companies out of the darkness. Cubesats are on the rise and PolyOrbite is in the middle of it all.
Next year’s IAC will take place in Adelaide, Australia, and PolyOrbite will once again be present at this amazing event to share our work and learn from others.

ByPolyOrbite team

Recruitment Drive 2016!

During the last two weeks, PolyOrbite has been working hard promoting our project and we are proud to show that our efforts have paid off.

Technical Societies Day

During this event, many students were able to obtain in-depth information on PolyOrbite and CubeSats by coming to our table. While at our kiosk, many of those students also signed up for a recruitment drive that would take place on September 13th and 15th to get to know the project a little better and meet the team’s leaders. If they decided on becoming a new member of PolyOrbite, we put them to the test. The task was to find a solution, in the sub-system of their choice, to a problem relating to a sample collection problem on an asteroid that had been redirected around the moon’s orbit. This exercise allowed us to stimulate our candidate’s minds and let them familiarize themselves with the different subsystems of CubeSats.

New Recruits Assembly

On the 20th of September, we gathered all our prospective recruits for the final selections.

During this assembly, the team leaders presented the details of their team (structure, mission, ADCS, power, telecommunications and administration) to help the recruits in making a final choice.



Following the presentation, the recruits took to the stage. One after another, they present their CubeSat sub-system design for the asteroid sample mission that was presented during the first information session.




The whole team at PolyOrbite would like to thank all of its new recruits for their active participation and amazing concepts!

ByPolyOrbite team

Back from the CSDC 2014-2016: 3rd place !

PolyOrbite, once again on the Podium !

On June 16, PolyOrbite won third place of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge 2014-2016 and also the UrtheCast Educational Outreach Award, rewarding educational involvement with the youth and general public.
The nanosatellite named Hathor has two payloads: SpaceBean (self incubator dedicated to the germination of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana) and IonDrop (an ion engine used for de-orbit in order to reduce space debris).

During the week of June 13, the team visited the David Florida Laboratory in Ottawa to make the final tests. The goal was to create a vibration test that simulates the launch of the nanosatellite. Hathor was tested around all 3 axes, with a frequency of up to 2000Hz).




After the vibration test, team leaders conducted a series of functional tests, to show the judges that the satellite was still operational, especially:
   – Sensor Acquisition
   – Demonstration of the actuators
   – Deployment of antennas

Followed by a series of questions from the judges about the 6 subsystems (ADCS, Power, Data handling, Mission, Structure and Telecommunication) and verification of the criterias provided in the specifications of the competition.

PolyOrbite is proud of its third place, allowing us to stay on the podium. The whole team is now already preparing the next two years with beautiful projects in mind and dreams of one day to put our nanosatellite into orbit.

Article written by Constance Fodé

ByPolyOrbite team

Eureka Festival!

PolyOrbite participated in the 10th Eureka Festival!

This event is a wonderful opportunity to discover science in a new way. It will appeal to a broad audience, both young and old.

We are proud of having a booth during the 3 days of the festival.

We offered visitors a fun craft activity, enabling them to build their own 3D model Cubesat and understand its components.
This activity was a success because we built 350 Cubesats paper with the children and we had 500 visitors. But also, we met people very interested in space science and we shared with them our passion.









ByPolyOrbite team

Space bean – The plant

In a previous article, we have introduced the SpaceBean incubator whose structure has been printed in 3D, as well as its main features.

This article will be about the general informations of the plant.

As a reminder, the purpose of the mission is to study the attitude of the plant in microgravity environment. This mission will be positioned in a sun-synchronous orbit at a 700km altitude

The selected plant is Arabidopsis Thaliana, native from Europe and Asia from the family of Brassicaceae. This plant was specifically chosen as it has already been grown in microgravity and also because, its genome has been completely sequenced in 2008, which allows us to study more easily some of its features. It will be provided by the Montreal Planetarium.

This experiment will last about three to four weeks, when the leaf surface will reach approximately 1cm2.

So we hope, with such an experiment that we could approve our incubator’s model to many researchers and students.

image: ©

ByPolyOrbite team

AéroPortail : Vitrines 2016

Aéro Montreal celebrates its 10th anniversary with the launch of the second edition of AéroPortail, a gathering of more than 2.000 graduates, professionals and aerospace enthusiasts of all ages, wishing to find employment or training programs in the sector.






It is with pride that PolyOrbite participated in Quebec’s largest gathering of the aerospace industry to present its latest satellite: Hathor and its missions. PolyOrbite team was able to share their knowledge with experts but also with the general public to raise awareness about space issues.






It is by the same occasion that Josué Zabeau, the head of the Payload team, participated in the panel discussion on the space theme, alongside Marc Donato VP Operations Information Systems Group of MDA, a world renowned company in space technology, representing PolyOrbite as the space club of the École Polytechnique in Montreal.

ByPolyOrbite team

IonDrop and Potomac Photonics


IonDrop, our second payload is an electrospray thruster, a technology based on the acceleration of ions through an electric field.


The propellant is an ionic liquid confined in a porous glass tank, the liquid reaches by capillarity a nickel porous substrate which is in contact with the porous glass. This nickel part has a very thin porosity with a pore size that does not exceed 2 microns and is covered with micro emitters with a height of 100 micrometres that will be soaked with the ionic liquid.
At a distance of 300 microns, a grid drilled with micro-holes provides the magnetic field with the porous nickel emitters on the other side and lets the accelerated ions pass through the holes. This grid (250 microns in diameter and 150 microns in thickness) is one of the key parts for this thruster design because it initiates the thrust. Thus, an extremely precise manufacturing process is required to realize it.













Potomac Photonic is the partner of PolyOrbite that will make this payload possible by creating this part. The newly formed partnership between Photonic Potomac and PolyOrbite is a vary valuable one and, hopefully, it will help PolyOrbite in this and future challenges. The resulting thruster will provide a thrust of 50 micro-Newton, a really small amount on paper, but still sufficient to decelerate the satellite of 150 m/s over long periods (2 weeks or more).


Miniaturizing the electrospray thruster technology is of fundamental importance for nanosatellites because it will allow them to change their orbit and to increase the number of applications realizable with CubeSats. With an Isp of almost 3000s, these thrusters are really efficient and can perform many different tasks, from attitude control to interplanetary propulsion. The thruster design developed by PolyOrbite is specifically meant for CubeSat and it it small enough that four such thrusters can fit on one end of a small satellite.

ByPolyOrbite team

SpaceBean – Incubator

We are getting closer to the day of the competition and we would like to introduce the SpaceBean’s incubator. We printed it in 3D, thanks to the MakerBor Replicator in the library at Polytechnique Montreal.

space bean rendu2

This incubator will be used to analyze the growth of our little seed on Earth. We will put it in the exact same environment that the other one, growing in the cubesat.
In this way, we will be able to compare and analyze the differences between the two seeds.


Main features:
– Weight : 400 ± 20 g
– Size : 94 x 94 x 40 mm
– Power consumption: 0.2 to 2.5 W
– Heat power: 2 W

ByPolyOrbite team

AeroPortail Event


PolyOrbite will participate to the AéroPortail event, held in the Centre des Sciences de Montreal. We will present our new satellite Hathor and its missions: SpaceBean and IonDrop.
This event is especially dedicated to aerospace enthusiasts. Feel free to visit us at our booth at the largest event of the aerospace industry in Quebec!