Industry News

ACSER Creates 3D Printed Thermoplastic Chassis for Satellite

Published on 2016-08-19. Author : SpecialChem

UNSW EC0 QB50 CubeSat
UNSW EC0 QB50 CubeSat
Three Australian research satellites – two of them built at UNSW – will be launched to the International Space Station this year and deployed into orbit to explore the little-understood region above Earth known as the thermosphere. One of the unique features of these satellites is its chassis which is made entirely from 3D printed thermoplastic.

3D Printing for Reduced Satellite Cost

The Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) has used 3D printed thermoplastic to create chassis of trio which are part of an international project known as QB50, which will see a total of 50 small satellites – known as cubesats and weighing just a kilo each UNSW-Ec0 that will be launched from the International Space Station in late 2016 as part of the European-led QB50 mission.

The three satellites are ACSER’s UNSW-EC0, which will study the atomic composition of the thermosphere; INSPIRE-2, a joint project between the University of Sydney, UNSW and the Australian National University which will measure the electron temperature and density of plasma in the region; and SUSat, a joint project between by the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia.

All three satellites, along with 40 other QB50 cubesats, will be launched to the International Space Station in December by an Orbital ATK Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, inside a Cygnus cargo freighter. The cubesats will be deploy
QB50 CubeSat
ed from the ISS between a month or so after arrival, and drift down from the ISS’s orbit of 380 km toward the target region.

Each cubesat also carries other instruments with its own engineering and scientific goals. UNSW-EC0, for example, has three other experiments: a robust computer chip designed to avoid crashing in the harsh radiation of space, as some satellites and space probes are forced to do when hit by cosmic rays; a space-borne GPS to allow satellites to cluster together in swarms; and test a super-reliable computer microkernel in the harsh radiation of space.

It’s the first time an Australian-made satellite has gone into space since FedSat, and 58kg experimental microsatellite satellite was launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre in 2002. The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, announced today he had had signed the Overseas Launch Certificates permitting the satellites to go into space.

About Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER)

ACSER has research strengths in Global Navigation Satellite Systems receiver design, Earth Observation satellite systems, cubesat development in radiation tolerant FPGA's, Novel satellite structures utilizing rapid manufacture, GNSS remote observation research and is among the emerging leaders in research of Off Earth Mining technologies.

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Source: Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER)
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