When we find out that this or that space agency has built a satellite to send it into space, we usually think that this task requires a lot of effort. Big budget. While we may be right, not all satellites have to cost millions of euros. There are projects that are less ambitious and really cheap.
A group of students from Brown University in the United States, Think carry concept From “cheap” to extreme. And as if that weren’t enough, not only did he manage to build a fully functional satellite, but he also managed to tackle a growing and complex problem: space debris. Let’s take a closer look at his interesting work.
Designed by students and launched by SpaceX
SBUDNIC was born in 2021 as a project between the Brown School of Engineering and the Italian National Research Council. the goal? Build a cheap satellite to be launched aboard a SpaceX rocket in 12 months. Thus, the students set to work to meet the given deadlines.
Unlike the resources possessed by private companies or space agencies, project members had to know how to design, build, and test a satellite capable of operating in outer space. All this with materials purchased from hardware stores and online stores such as Amazon, which included a €20 CPU and 48 Energizer AA batteries.
The university allowed a 3D printer to be used to build the tow sail, a Kapton polyimide film that it added to the satellite to help it Re-enter Earth. The satellite was ready on time and passed the challenging requirements of SpaceX and NASA for launch.
Finally, the brainchild of this group of students traveled into space inside a larger carrier satellite, D-Orbit, and began orbiting the Earth as expected. Now, data from Air Force Space Command indicates that the satellite has fulfilled its mission, and is descending thanks to its built-in tow sail.
This element, which is key to combating space debris, has been deployed about 520 kilometers, above the orbit of the International Space Station. Now, almost a year later, he’s on about 470 kilometers On the ground. What’s interesting is that other devices deployed next to it continue to circle around 500 km.
From the Brown College of Engineering, they estimate that SBUDNIC will complete its re-entry within five years, a significant improvement over the 25 or 27 years estimated without the towsail. They explained that this solution could be adopted by other players that launch small satellites and thus greatly reduce space debris.
Pictures: Marco Cruz (via Brown University)
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