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NASA will launch two 3D printing cubesat Cornell university in 2019.
Apr 11, 2018

NASA's exciting cubic satellite program will take part in the launch of a miniature cubesat to the outer space.Teams from universities and education agencies across the United States have been included in the plan, and the next satellite is scheduled for launch in early 2019.Recently, NASA announced that there will be 11 more research teams participating in the ninth round, including two at Cornell university.Students at Cornell university used 3D printing technology in their project, which they named PAN (autonomous navigation explorer) and Alpha.


NASA's CubeSats are nanosatellites, the smallest of which should be about four inches on each side and weigh less than three pounds.This basic dimension is called U, and the larger CubeSats are measured by it.Cornell's 3D printing project PAN is 2x' 3U'.They are designed to be rendered autonomously and docked in low earth orbit.The mission's function is to demonstrate the potential of the technology and to reduce barriers to entry into complex space missions and to encourage other small research laboratories with limited funding.The team's satellites will also take part in the moon Derby, with a possible $5 million prize.

CubeSats will launch from NASA's newest rocket, the space launch system (SLS), which will launch an unmanned Orion spacecraft into space in 2019.More CubeSats are scheduled to launch in 2020 and 2021, and the CubeSat launch, which began in 2014, has selected 158 nanosatellites from 39 states so far and has launched 59 separate missions.Other options for the ninth round include uc Davis and the Massachusetts institute of technology project, as well as the first selection from Puerto Rico and the university of Kansas.


The Cornell student group calls itself Cislunar explorer, led by Mason Peck, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering."We were very excited and really grateful," he said.I think it's important for NASA to take these opportunities to inspire the nation.""In many ways, it is a field of fair competition that allows people to go into space."This is what NASA says, "you can also participate in space exploration."

The 3D printing technology enabled the team to assemble the satellite propulsion system much cheaper than it would otherwise have been.According to Stuart aslan, PAN's program director, "other small satellite altitude control systems that are similar to our capabilities typically cost close to $100,000 or more.We have reduced the cost to $2,500 for our mission."

The team's satellites are made up of many commercial hardware and 3D printing parts.CubeSat, which successfully launched PAN in early 2019, is likely to be groundbreaking in its future impact on 3D printing of satellite components.


As for the alpha team, their project also adopted a newly developed sail.The 1 m x 1 m light sail is designed for use in microsatellites to be deployed automatically in space.The light sail is a very thin carpton layer. It is a very hot and stable film that can travel through space through the radiation pressure generated by electromagnetic radiation.The light yacht developed by alpha team will also include four chip satellites or "ChipSats" in each corner of the sail, a smaller satellite than CubeSats.

According to the project director Liam Crotty, "our chip satellite allows for [local] in large range sensor, because they can be distributed in large area, and they are very cheap, can be used more recklessly.This is a new paradigm for space exploration."

However, the work is far from over, and more testing and modifications are needed before the launch.The PAN team focused on preparing CubeSat for various launch conditions."Each component has to be tested repeatedly in many different situations to ensure that the spacecraft can operate as expected, no matter what happens after the launch," said Aslan.

Their main challenge is to provide critical communications systems for their small satellites."Solar cells don't have much space, so it's hard to generate too much energy," says Liam Crotty, the project's director."So our radio transmission is very weak, and the receiver needs a lot of processing power to hear the signal."Crotty says."The team is working to improve the data rate by making more complex signal processing at the receiving station."

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