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University of Alabama - Huntsville (UAH) CubeSat Parabolic Flight Testing

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

University of Alabama - Huntsville (UAH) CubeSat Parabolic Flight Testing
The UAHuntsville CubeSat is a student satellite development project to design, build, test, and operate an orbital picosatellite. The project is conceived and run under the Space Hardware Club, an all volunteer, all student aerospace system design group and student organization of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The UAHuntsville CubeSat program has a primary focus of designing a 1U CubeSat system that accomplishes three primary technology demonstrations. The three primary technology demonstrations on our CubeSat are: 1) passive nadir axis stabilization for picosatellite attitude control, 2) improved communications for a stabilized 1U satellite system, and 3) deployable solar panels for increased solar power collection on a picosatellite system. The system achieves nadir axis stabilization through the deployment of a gravity gradient boom and hysteresis rods. The system achieves improved communications by utilizing a stable platform to implement a monopole antenna with the deployable solar panels as a ground plane. Communications utilize the 70 cm amateur radio band. Through the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative the Space Hardware Club CubeSat team has proposed for an orbital flight to perform its mission. The opportunity to perform microgravity deployment tests on a parabolic aircraft will increase the technology readiness level of the CubeSat deployment mechanisms to level 6 and will improve the understanding of how the deployable systems react in the unconstrained microgravity environment. This will allow mechanical functioning of the hardware and verification of the attitude stabilization modeling. The technologies which will be tested on the microgravity flight will be: • Reaction control wheel torque • Dipole antenna deployment • Gravity gradient boom deployment • Solar panel deployment • Monopole antenna deployment Each test will be performed individually and will remain deployed through the remainder of the tests. The deployments will support the CubeSat mission of achieving gravity gradient stabilization, improved power collection for a picosatellite, and improved communications for picosatellite operations. The Space Hardware Club and its CubeSat program are supported by the following University of Alabama in Huntsville organizations: the Office of Vice President for Research, the College of Engineering, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center, and the Reliability and Failure Analysis Laboratory. Additionally, NASA's Alabama Space Grant Consortium gives support and industry partners in the Huntsville aerospace community participate in design reviews and provide testing for the CubeSat program. More »

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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