Nanosat Weekend, Harwell



26th-27th September 2015

This event was a proof of concept exercise showing the developments of the satellite from the prior workshop done in Poland. The satellite workshop weekend gave participants an incredible opportunity to experience first-hand the entire process of satellite development. Starting with a box of components, the teams assembled their UBO PocketQube satellites in just a few hours. This included connecting all the electronic sub systems together, such as the On Board Computer and the Electrical Power System, but also structural components such as the main chassis and mounting the solar panels. Having completed the main build, the teams went on to run a series of functional checks to ensure their hardware was operating correctly.

The afternoon, and much of the second day were spent developing mission concepts and programming the satellites to carry out tasks for the upcoming balloon flight. Here the teams had the freedom to design their own experiments utilising the sensors and modules available on the satellites, and write their own software to collect this data and transmit it to the ground.
After lunch, the completed satellites were bolted to a platform, and a large tethered helium balloon was inflated. As the platform ascended, teams began communicating with their satellites through a radio link and a ground station attached to their laptops. Some teams were commanding the satellites to carry out different tasks, some were downloading telemetry data from the satellite over the radio, and several even managed to transmit some image data from the on board camera.

After the flight the satellites were recovered and any data remaining in the on board storage was collected. One satellite had shut down early due to an undercharged battery, however the remaining seven were all functioning well, and every team had managed to collect some usable data. From starting the weekend with nothing more than a basic knowledge of programming in C++, every participant had successfully built their own satellite and designed and executed a complete satellite mission.

What We Did

– Inspired interest from participants that are familiar with basic programming skills to think about how they can use there knowledge in a space scenario

– Educating participants on how a typical satellite works from avionics systems to an on-orbit instrument.

– Build, code and test a functional satellite in two days