Nanosatellite Separation Experiment Using a P-POD Deployment Mechanism

AMSAT-UK_Bevelled_LogoThese video shows CubeSat deployment experiments carried out in a weightless environment on the “Vomit Comet” aircraft by students from the University of Texas.

The team write:

Nanosatellites are becoming increasingly common in the aerospace industry due to their reduced size, small mass, and economical cost. These small satellites will often operate in groups rather than as single satellites, and once they are clear of the carrier, separate from one another.One topic of immense interest is the characterization of the separation dynamics of such satellites.

Our team’s experiment involves testing a separation method that has never been performed before. Our proposal is to observe and characterize the separation of two satellites by ejecting a 3-unit CubeSat (picosatellite) from the Mk II Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD). This separation is unique because it will occur orthogonal to the axis of motion. A larger satellite, termed the “Chaser”, will have a P-POD mounted to it, while a smaller satellite, termed the “Target”, will be initially located inside of the P-POD, and will be ejected from the Mk II. One practical use of this separation system in space would be to deploy the Target from the Chaser and then perform autonomous rendezvous by using a propulsion system on the Chaser. The objective of our experiment is to obtain data related to the dynamics of this separation, which includes rotations, accelerations, and translations of both the Target and Chaser satellites during and shortly after the separation event. This data will then be examined in order to determine the validity of this separation system. A microgravity environment is required since motion in six degrees of freedom (translation and rotation) are necessary for the experiment to most nearly approximate the conditions that the satellites will be subject to while in orbit. Our experiment will provide direct observation of the separation dynamics through the use of accelerometers, inertial measurement units, and visual representation through cameras. We will also have immediate access to the data analysis through our wireless data acquisition systems.

University of Texas Vomit Comet P-POD Separation Experiment 2008 Part 1 of 2

Watch University of Texas Vomit Comet P-POD Separation Experiment 2008 Part 2 of 2

Source: YouTube