U.S. Naval Academy’s Small Satellite Program
POSTED ON: Wednesday, July 31, 2019 9:36 AM by CDR Jeff King, Aerospace Engineering Dept.
The U.S. Naval Academy’s two newest satellites were successfully launched on 24 JUN 2019. BRICSat-2 (USNA-14) and PSAT2 (USNA-15) extend the heritage of using satellites to help educate midshipmen in the Aerospace Engineering program.
The U.S. Naval Academy’s Small Satellite Program (NASSP) has been developing student built micro-satellites since 2001. There have been 17 space payloads launched to date. Starting in 2012, NASSP focused on CubeSat-class satellite development, involving tens of Aerospace Engineering students in design, development, integration, test, launch and operation of CubeSats. Total of seven CubeSats have been developed and launched as of 2019.
BRICSat-2 is a 1.5U CubeSat designed to be small, affordable, and an ideal platform for testing new space technology such as a micro-cathode thruster system. BRICSat-2’s goal is to test the micro-cathode propulsion system, developed by the George Washington University, in a CubeSat to determine its performance and reliability. BRICSat-2 thruster system will stabilize and control the attitude of the spacecraft. These tests will pave the way for future CubeSat missions that might need maneuverability such as communications where multiple spacecraft need to be spread out on orbit to improve access times. More than 10 student were involved in its development. The entire mission cycle, starting from mission concept to integration and testing has been performed by the team of midshipmen working on this project.
View of Earth taken onboard PSAT2 after launch and transmitted to a ground station
Students built the PSAT2 CubeSat as a 2-way communication satellite in the Amateur Satellite Service. It can be used around the world by any duly licensed amateur radio operator on land, on the sea or in the air. All communications are captured by volunteer ground stations around the globe and made available on its public web sites. PSTA2 also included a small camera capable of taking images and transmitting them down to the earth. PSAT2 joins our original PSAT on orbit since 2015 and our first still-semi-operational PCSAT in orbit since 2001. Four years of students worked on this 7” by 4” by 4” (1.5U) CubeSat and gained valuable hands-on educational experience. Our aerospace department has all the space qualification test apparatus to prepare it for flight. See http://aprs.org/psat2.html