Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Small satellites soar in high-altitude demonstration

June 18, 2013
Four tiny spacecraft soared over the California desert June 15 in a high-altitude demonstration flight that tested the sensor and equipment designs created by NASA engineers and student launch teams.

Students and engineers participate in a prelaunch briefing before liftoff of the Prospector P-18 rocket.
Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Four tiny spacecraft soared over the California desert June 15 in a high-altitude demonstration flight that tested the sensor and equipment designs created by NASA engineers and student launch teams.

The satellites, known as CubeSats, lifted off from the Friends of Amateur Rocketry launch site in the Mojave Desert aboard a Prospector 18 rocket, built by Garvey Spacecraft Corp. of Long Beach.

Data recorded by the CubeSats' onboard sensors during Saturday's flight test will help characterize the environment and loads the small satellites encountered during flight -- information that's critical to the scientists and engineers developing similar spacecraft for future missions.

CubeSats are 4-inch cubes that pack a lot of capability into their small size. While they typically fly as secondary payloads on larger missions involving bigger spacecraft and rockets, the goal is to eventually have the option of launching them as the primary payload on smaller rockets.

Saturday's flight test was a critical step forward in the development of such missions.

Test team personnel reported to the launch site as the sun began to rise. At 10:52 a.m. Pacific Time, the Prospector rocket's single liquid-fueled engine ignited and the vehicle quickly rose above the desert landscape, reaching a peak altitude of about 9,000 feet. The vehicle's parachutes released prematurely, but the rocket continued on its path, coasting and tumbling, ultimately landing on its side with its pint-sized payload still tucked safely inside.

But the early parachute deployment and hard landing are not considered setbacks, according to Garrett Skrobot, the High Altitude Demonstration Mission's project manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

"We consider it a success because we were able to test out all the experiments, and this flight also proves the versatility of the experiments we were flying," Skrobot said. "What we learned was that we're able to fly four payloads with new hardware in an unexpected environment -- and they performed."

"The whole point is to test these systems before going on to the next vehicle," he added.

Each of the four CubeSats was designed to test or evaluate different aspects of the flight. All were retrieved from the rocket after landing, and team members already are working to recover as much data as possible from the satellites' memory cards.

Two student-built spacecraft were designed to work together to record the launch environment. CP-9, built by the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, and StangSat, created by students at Merritt Island High School in Florida, also were planned to demonstrate the ability to communicate with each other through an onboard Wi-Fi connection.

The duo, which endured the rough ride with minimal damage, are slated to fly aboard a Falcon 9 rocket during SpaceX's fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.

The Rocket University Broad Initiatives CubeSat, or RUBICS-1, was contributed by Kennedy employees participating in the center's Rocket University program. The spacecraft was instrumented to check out the performance of a new, lightweight version of the satellites' carrier, built by Tyvak of Irvine, Calif.

PhoneSat, built by NASA's Ames Research Center in California, take advantage of smartphones' power, memory and camera technologies, compact size, and off-the-shelf availability for the development of low-cost spacecraft. RUBICS and PhoneSat received data during the flight.

Participants will take advantage of the learning opportunity afforded by Saturday's flight anomaly to assess what they need to change as they recondition the satellites for upcoming missions.

"I asked all the teams if they'd want to fly again in four to six months," Skrobot said. "The answer was a unanimous 'yes.' "

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. The original article was written by Anna Heiney, NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

NASA. "Small satellites soar in high-altitude demonstration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618172614.htm>.
NASA. (2013, June 18). Small satellites soar in high-altitude demonstration. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618172614.htm
NASA. "Small satellites soar in high-altitude demonstration." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618172614.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This

More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

AP (Apr. 23, 2014) — Speaking about the future of the United States Air Force, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh says the choice to divest the A-10 fleet was logical and least impactful. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jets Fuel Jump in Boeing's Revenue

Jets Fuel Jump in Boeing's Revenue

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 23, 2014) — A sharp rise in revenue for commercial jets offset a decline in Boeing's defense business. And a big increase in deliveries lifted profitability. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins