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Satellite Development Organization at the University of Illinois

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The Satellite Development Organization or "SatDev", is a cross-discipline RSO under the Laboratory for Advanced Space Systems at Illinois (LASSI). We design, build, test, and operate small satellites in orbit. Primarily, we operate out of Talbot Laboratory which will gain a three-story addition on the south side of the building, near the current location of the Aerospace Engineering Department. LASSI will be located on the second floor and the Missions Operation Center will be named after Steven R. Nagel, an astronaut and alumnus, who passed away in 2014.


CubeSail mission is a low-cost spacecraft propulsion demonstration using two identical 1.5U CubeSat satellites to deploy a 260 m-long, 20 m2 solar sail ribbon between them. This mission is a technology demonstration for the larger UltraSail heliogyro by the University of Illinois.


The LAICE project, an initiative in upper atmospheric research, aims to demonstrate and acquire in situ measurements of neutral and ion density properties in the altitude region from 150 to 325 kilometers; and to remotely sense wave parameters between 90 and 100 kilometers as the waves move upward from the lower atmosphere into the ionosphere.


AE Assistant Prof. Zach Putnam and AE Prof. Debbie Levin will work with Ghosh in using a spectrometer to study the chemical reactions and chemical species present upon a CubeSat’s re-entry to Earth. The Purdue student team led by Prof. Alina Alexeenko will provide an advanced pressure sensor to show the density of the atmosphere at re-entry.


Illinois will provide the CubeSat for Northwestern University to conduct a freeze-casting demonstration. Northwestern wants to get into materials fabrication in space using a technique that involves freezing particle suspensions. The CubeSat would take into space particles suspended in water that will be frozen, simulating the process that would be used in space-based materials fabrication.


This satellite will be a technology demonstrator for three key experiments. First, it will demonstrate an active liquid cooling system for CubeSats. Second, it will demonstrate a new control strategy—using piezoelectric actuators embedded in solar panels—to simultaneously reduce vibrations and to change the CubeSat pointing direction. Finally it will develop a single-photon annealing technique to extend the lifetime of sensors important to quantum entanglement experiments in space.

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