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
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.
In the last week of may 2014, PolyOrbite went to the David Florida Laboratory for the last evaluation in the competition, which would reveal which teams were going to be the best. We had to go through vibration tests and a final review of the satellite with the judges we had met at the Critical Design Review. On Thursday night was the announcement regarding the ranking of the teams.
For our very first edition at this competition, we are very proud to say that PolyOrbite accomplished 3rd place over the 10 canadian participating teams. Even more so when we realise that we are the only new participating school in the top 5 universities, who had over four years of experience for some. The 2nd team is SpaceConcordia, from our neigbhour university who was very supportive of us and who truly deserved this position. The winners of this Second edition of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge are the students from the University of Victoria. Congratulations!
We are looking forward for the next edition of the competition which begins this fall!
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.
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.
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.
One 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.
￼A 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.