Meet Alberto Leoni, student engineer with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Centre of Expertise for YES2
What are you studying and what's your specialty?
I am studying Mechatronic engineering at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in northern Italy. I’m really passionate about designing mechanical components controlled by electronics.
How did you get involved in the YES project?
One of my University professors was contacted by the prime contractor, Delta-Utec and I was given the chance to get involved in the project. Participating gave me a opportunity to increase my understanding of space craft engineering and to work with a great team of students from all over Europe.
What was your role in the project?
Delta Utec asked me to find a way of securing Fotino to MASS, while allowing for the best method of release for deployment of the Fotino capsule onto its re-entry trajectory. I worked on seven or eight different designs for systems that could hold Fotino in place on top of MASS, while also ensuring the release at the critical time.
I evaluated which of the ideas would work and took the best four or five ideas to the Patras Centre of Expertise, where we had a further evaluation to decide which design to move forward with.
What were you working on in the project?
I worked almost completely on the MFD (MASS Fotino Detaining/Decoupling system). This is the system that holds Fotino in place. The same system releases Fotino at the critical moment, when the tether is fully deployed and swinging through the "local vertical" (the direction from Foton to the Earth's centre of gravity). After I finished the design and development of MFD, I was given the chance build the prototype for testing.
With the help of a technician at my university, I made the first prototype of the MFD to the proper scale and using the same materials as for the final MFD product (Aluminium and Kevlar). Once it was made, I transferred it to some of the other members of the YES2 team, who then used parabolic flights to test the prototype system design in weightless conditions.