The Satellite team (QSAT) develops a 3U CubeSat to compete in the CubeSat Design Challenge alongside other Canadian Universities with the aim of launching a satellite into space! The team consists of 6 sub-system teams: Communications, Electrical Power System (EPS), Attitude Determination & Control System (ADCS), Mechanical, and Payload which together form a functional satellite. Projects are often multidisciplinary and sub-teams consist of students from all programs and backgrounds. The team is entering its first year of a two-year competition cycle in Fall 2021, with competition scheduled for Summer 2023 at the Canadian Space Agency’s satellite testing facility in Ottawa. During the 2020-2021 school year, the team also participated in Canadian Stratospheric Balloon Experiment Design Challenge (CAN-SBX) and will be launching an experiment with prototype satellite systems on a high-altitude balloon in October 2021 in partnership with the CSA. QSAT also runs the Space School program, aimed at first years, to provide students with the essential skills and knowledge needed to start designing satellites. New team members are welcome to join the team directly or via Space School.
The 4th annual offering of Space School will be run during the 2022-2023 academic year and is open to all students interested in joining the QSET Satellite team. The program is geared towards first years but interested students in any year or program are welcome. Through weekly sessions, students will have the chance to build a small experiment designed to go to space – with the possibility to launch into the stratosphere on a high-altitude balloon! Skills learned include GitHub, working with Arduinos, basic circuits, soldering, PCB design, CAD & 3D printing, and designing for a space environment. Space School is run by senior QSAT team members in collaboration with Thomas Sears, a Queen’s PhD student with CubeSat industry experience.
Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS)
The Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) determines and controls the satellite’s orientation in space. The system includes a wide array of sensors and actuators, such as an inertial measurement unit with a gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer, photodiode based coarse angle sun sensors, EC motor reaction wheels, and a magnetorquer. The team is developing basic PID control software in order to accurately determine and control the CubeSat.
Onboard Computer System
The Onboard Computer (OBC) is the main computer and network that manages all the other subsystems on the Satellite. The system involves working with microprocessors, memory banks, and interfacing chips to build and connect the computer to other sub-systems to perform the necessary tasks of the satellite.
Electrical Power System
The Payload is the primary reason for the satellite to go to space. All other subsystems exist to support the payload in performing its mission. Currently, QSET’s satellite has an earth observation mission where the primary payload is the “Selfie-Cam” optical imager: a custom camera system to take a low-resolution picture of Earth.