Meet the team: UoS3

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ESA / Education / CubeSats - Fly Your Satellite!

UoS3is a project at the University of Southampton that is being undertaken by students to further their understanding of spacecraft engineering. The satellite is a 1U CubeSat (10×10×10 cm) that contains two payloads. The primary payload is a GNSS receiver capable of tracking the CubeSat’s position during orbit decay and re-entry. This data can be used to improve our understanding and modelling of space debris, an area of research that the University of Southampton has been involved in for over 20 years.  The secondary payload is a visible band camera which will be used to take pictures of Europe.

The mission

UoS3 with one solar panel removed for internal view
UoS3 with one solar panel removed for internal view

The project provides first hand practical experience for students, allowing them to become familiar with the spacecraft engineering process. This focus on education means that most of the CubeSat subsystems has been designed and manufactured in-house with minimal reliance on commercial off-the-shelf components. Further student outreach is obtained through involving university societies such as the Southampton University Spaceflight Society, Wireless Society and Wessex Scene (Southampton’s student newspaper). This wide variety of student engagement across a wide range of disciplines and years is expected to greatly increase the educational return.

The data obtained from the main GPS payload as well as attitude sensing payload will be useful in improving re-entry models; to further develop and validate the understanding of space debris, such as for how long it remains a hazard before deorbiting.  

This mission builds on a previous mission called project BLAST, which utilised a high-altitude balloon to test a CubeSat in a near space environment. Following this, UoS3will be the first University of Southampton CubeSat to enter orbit.

The team

UoS3 team logo
UoS3 team logo

As of late 2018, over 80 different students and academics have been involved in the UoS3project from a range of faculties and societies. The bulk of these are from the seven successive GDP (Group Design Project) teams of Meng students, with a few summer teams of interns at Beng/Bsc. The current GDP team are all astronautics students with a good knowledge of the spacecraft design process, specialising in areas such as comms, software and testing. The Southampton University Spaceflight Society is supporting the current team by developing the ground station.

CubeSat quick facts

Payload GNSS Receiver: Uses GPS or Galileo signals for position tracking and re-entry analysis. This data is supported by attitude measurements taken by an Inertial Measurement Unit.
Camera: For taking pictures of Europe, for use in outreach material
Ground station Ground Station located at University of Southampton and run by the Southampton University Spaceflight Society
Dimensions Stowed<100, 100, 113.5 mm>
Mass 0.95 kg
Power consumption Weighted average of 0.666 W over lifetime
Solar panels 5 x 1U body mounted solar panels
Mission lifetime 1 year

Exploded CAD model of UoS3
Exploded CAD model of UoS3