Author Archives: PolyOrbite team

ByPolyOrbite team

Solar Panel Workshop and Critical Design Review

In the main events of September’s last week, our members had the opportunity to participate to the Solar Panel Workshop (SPW), held at MDA, and to present the Critical Design Review (CDR) in front of five very qualified judges, as requested by the competition.

The first two days of the week were used for the SPW, where two members of PolyOrbite, Vincent Bougie and Mathieu Lalonde, had the chance to test their soldering abilities by manually assembling spaceproof solar panels while considerably increasing their amount of knowledge in that area. ‘’We had two days to practice what is usually mastered in three to six months in the space industry. We have seldom been that much concentrated.’’ both our members said.


Representatives of all the Canadian universities participating to the CSDC at the SPW

They also enhanced their general understanding of satellite design, assembly and testing after a tour within MDA’s facilities. Senior satellite designer Maarten Meerman came down from Vancouver on his own time to lead the workshop with his valuable knowledge and expertise. On place, our PolyOrbite representatives also had the opportunity to meet the other Canadian university teams’ members participating to the competition, from the University of British Columbia to the Concordia University.


PolyOrbite’s representatives along with the project supervisor Giovanni Beltrame (5th from the left) after the CDR

As for the CDR presentation on Thursday the 26th of September, Anthony Buffet, Martin Caron and Olivier Comtois were presenting the Critical Design Review of the nanosatellite in front of five judges heavily specialized in the space industry, including the competition president Mr. Larry Reeves. Our two members in China, accompanied by our associates from the University of Bologna were also participating by videoconference. This crucial phase in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) was decisive regarding PolyOrbite’s allowance to pursue the competition. Even though the stress before and during the presentation were nearly unbearable for our members, the judges’ constant questioning was very enlightening and most of all, constructive. One week later, the positive result of the CDR was made public in a certified mail, stating that PolyOrbite officially had passed the CDR.

All the members were very pleased by this news, considering all the invested efforts. Although, the competition is far from the end and much work still has to be done. The construction and testing phases are the next ones to achieve.

ByPolyOrbite team


Less than one year after its creation, PolyOrbite was already represented at the annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held in Beijing, China, with our associates from the Bologna University of Italia. It occurred in the last week of September, from the 23rd to the 27th. As described by the IAC’s official website, “The IAC is the one place and time of the year when all space actors come together”.  Professional from all over the world meet at this very event to share the latest information on space and spatial technologies and make contacts over an elaborated range of symposiums, conferences, plenaries and mere discussions.

This year, our Project Lead, Étienne Bourbeau, and our Mechanical Team Lead, Mark Smyth, presented an article about our satellite’s main missions, which consist of reducing orbital detritus over time and study the geomorphology of the Baffin’s island, North Canada. They also gave an overall description of every subsystem to be used in the satellite and described the functioning of our collaboration with the University of Bologna and our educational outreach for different age groups.


Étienne Bourbeau (2nd) et Mark Smyth (4th) in company of our University of Bologna associates

Apart from the presentation itself, contacts were made with different professionals and universities throughout the globe. For instance, our members had the opportunity to talk to the Lithuanian Space Agency’s Director, make a collaboration with an aerospace professor from the University of Bologna, Italia, regarding the antennas, and acquire precious information from Polish, Scottish, German, Romanian and Italian university representatives, only to name some of them.

On a lighter note, the communication was more difficult than expected. Our members constantly had to draw pictograms in order to be understood, which considerably complicated their traveling: ‘’We are lucky they understand Arabic numbers!’’ said Étienne Bourbeau, Project Lead, ‘’Otherwise, it would have been impossible for us to find our way through this city’’.

In short, we are all very proud of this achievement, which, in itself, truly is an innovation from an École Polytechnique de Montréal’s technical society. This experience greatly benefits all of us with international collaborations. We are looking forward to the next edition of the International Astronautical Congress.

ByPolyOrbite team

Geomorphology of the Baffin Island

Baffin IslandDefined as the fifth biggest island in the world, the Baffin Island located in north Canada turned out to be a subject of interest for Geocryolab.  Willing to study the periglacial landforms of this island, Geocryolab laboraty from the Geology department of  Montreal University, specialised in cold areas’ geomorphology and geotechnics, has joined PolyOrbite to define the satellite’s first mission.

For a minimal duration of one year, the satellite shall be able to adequately positioned itself over this northern area, take several pictures and send them to Earth so they can be studied. By the end of this mission, the area covered by the satellite’s photos will be about 1000 km by 1000 km, which is largely sufficient to cover the entire Island.

ByPolyOrbite team

Experimental Deorbiting System

Deorbiting systemOne of the principal particularities of this project is the integration of a deorbiting system. In a time where spatial debris are multiplying and becoming increasingly dangerous for accessing space, a team of students from the University of Bologna in Italy has affiliated with the Montreal Polytechnique in order to develop and implement an experimental deorbiting system. This system’s goal is to decrease time spent by the satellite on a low orbit (700km) from 75 years to 25 years.

Technically, the system initialy is compacted in a 0,5U volume at the bottom of the satellite and deploys itself by the end of the principal mission with independant mecanism and power system. Therefore, after one or two years spent in space, the 50cm by 50cm sail is set in action. The large contact area is necessary in this environment where gazeous particules are rare in order to gradually decrease the spacecraft’s velocity so it would leave its orbit prematurely.

If ever the efficiency of this low cost solution to reduce spatial debris is proven, it could become an example to follow for future spatial objects to be placed in orbit.

ByPolyOrbite team

Canadian Satellite Design Challenge

CSDCA dynamic team of students from the Polytechnique de Montréal has decided to create PolyOrbite in order to participate to the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) for the first time. In this new society, many engineering department will be represented. Among those are Computer engineering, Mechanical engineering, Aerospace engineering, Electrical engineering and engineering Physics.