SPACE FLIGHT DESIGN CHALLENGE "OC-Flight-1"
NASA's IV&V Program's Space Flight Design Challenge is an initiative focused on enhancing critical systems education, the tools and methods of IV&V, and systems and software engineering approaches in general. The Space Flight Design Challenge pushes the envelope of education and engages students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines needed to successfully build and test complex and critical systems. The Space Flight Design Challenge is a collaborative partnership among NASA's IV&V Program, industry, academia, and other government agencies to foster innovative advancements in the application of IV&V while enhancing the knowledge and capabilities of the public through hands-on spacecraft development. Using an incremental approach, teams comprised of both college and high school students across West Virginia and eventually the nation will compete in building, testing, launching and operating flight systems in low Earth orbit through amateur radio operations.
The first mission is dedicated to the former Chief, Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA, Bryan O'Connor. It serves to represent the "yes if" attitude required to meet the far-reaching goals that we have set forth. Our first flight reaches new heights, drives critical thinking, and demands excellence that Bryan O'Connor exemplified during his tour as Chief, Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA. The first flight is named "OC-Flight-1" in honor of Bryan O'Connor.
Ultra low-cost orbital launch vehicles are designed to place 30 or 45 kilograms into polar low Earth orbit. This payload capacity allows formations of 32 to 48 TubeSats to be launched per orbital mission with each TubeSat housed in its own dedicated ejection cylinder. TubeSat ejections will occur at timed intervals.
The main payload device onboard OC-Flight-1 is a magnetometer, which will be used to measure the magnetic field of the earth. This payload was chosen as it provides results that can be easily compared to a well-known model providing an effective way to assess performance of the satellite and payload.
The magnetometer, which outputs scaled analog voltage directly proportional to the measured magnetic field, interfaces directly to the analog-to-digital converter of the micro-controller on the payload board. An inertial measurement unit (IMU) provides telemetry data necessary to correlate spacecraft attitude with magnetometer measurements. Data storage is enabled via 16GB class 10 micro-SD memory card. The IMU and micro-SD card reader interface with the micro-controller through serial peripheral interface bus.
The expected orbital profile of OC-Flight-1 has been modeled using software. An operational life of approximately 3 months is predicted due to the vulnerability of COTS to excessive radiation.
OC-Flight-1 will be decommissioned through complete orbital degradation after an estimated 12 months. OC-Flight-1 Launch/Orbital Parameters:
- Tentative launch: January 2015
- Circular orbit: Inclination = 90 deg (polar), Altitude = 310 km
- Orbital period: ~ 90 minutes
- Contact opportunities: 4 /day
- Contact period: 8-14 minutes
The OC-Flight-1 pico-satellite has been modeled using 3-D computer-aided design software and exported to a rapid prototyping machine housed at the IV&V Program's Educator Resource Center (ERC). The 3-D model allowed students working on the project to visualize the assembly while assembling the spacecraft. The spacecraft was built from a TubeSat kit offered by the launch provider at relatively low cost, in an effort to uphold the COTS objective. The kit included printed circuit board (PCB) designs, an assembly guide, components list, basic hardware, a micro-controller, 70 centimeter band transceiver, and a 3.7 V lithium-ion polymer battery. It was the responsibility of the team to design the payload and fabricate the PCBs.