Surrey Satellite to put Xbox parts in space

Surrey-based researchers are to build Xbox Kinect hardware into twin satellites in an auto-docking experiment.

The microsatellites, to be called STRaND-2, are being developed by University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), with the Kinect providing its 3D laser scanner.

CubeSat is a mechanical standard for miniature satellites. In this case, the spacecraft will be ‘3U’ CubeSats each measuring 10x10x30cm and weighing under 4kg.

“Docking systems have never been employed on such small and low cost missions and are usually reserved for big-budget space missions to the International Space Station or historically, the Mir space station and the Apollo programme,” said SSTL.

They will dock many times, initially with ground intervention, then increasingly automatically.

SSTL’s speciality, through extensive testing, is selecting commercial electronic hardware which can be used in space – STRaND-2’s scanners will come out of actual Kinects.

Inspiration for the flight came from an experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where a tiny helicopter equipped with Kinect hardware was used to scan rooms as it flew through them, allowing a 3D model of the environment to be built, said SSTL project leader Shuan Kenyon.

The University of Surrey and SSTL team has already developed STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator), and was looking for a further challenge.

STRaND-1, another 3U CubeSat, will famously carry a mobile phone into orbit and send data direct to schools.

STRaND-1 is also one of the most manoeuvrable small satellites ever built, with eight micro-thrusters providing rotation in three axes as well as lateral movement in two dimensions. A separate gas jet provides thrust in the third linear dimension.

If two similar satellites can be made to dock, the team is proposing larger self-assembling structures made of many, perhaps dozens, of CubeSats.

“It may seem far-fetched, but our low cost nanosatellites could dock to build large and sophisticated modular structures such as space telescopes,” said Surrey university project head Dr Chris Bridges. “Unlike today’s big space missions, these could be reconfigured as mission objectives change, and upgraded in orbit with the latest available technologies.”

“I think by STRaND-4, we should be able to build the USS Enterprise,” quipped Kenyon.

Other ideas include using small mobile scanning satellites to inspect larger spacecraft.

‘Kinect’ STRaND-2 at UK Space Agency Conference http://www.uk.amsat.org/6795

STRaND on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nanosats

‘Kinect’ STRaND-2 at UK Space Agency Conference

Tim Peake at UKSA Conference 20120426

Prospective UK Astronaut Tim Peake addressed the conference via Skype

On the anniversary of the launch of Ariel-1, April 26, the UK Space Agency and the Science Museum co-hosted a two-day conference celebrating 50 years of the UK in space. It brought together those who started the UK on the road to being a world-renowned centre for space technology and research with the scientists and engineers of the next fifty years.

Vince Cable at UKSA Conference 20120426

Vince Cable Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Ariel-1 was the world’s first international satellite. The United Kingdom stepped up to an offer from NASA to launch scientific satellites at an international meeting on space research in 1959. From this point, the UK took the lead in satellite technology as well as beginning the UK’s long history of international collaboration.

As part of the programme on the 26th, there were personal insights from scientists and engineers involved in the original design and build of the Ariel series of satellites, as well as those teams developing the flagship programmes of today and tomorrow. The Science Museum will be highlighting historic milestones in the UK space sector over the course of the week.

Shaun Kenyon at UKSA Conference 20120426

Shaun Kenyon of the STRaND project

The future is set to be as innovative and inspirational as the last 50 years. There is a vast potential for space technology. From the growing need for Earth observation satellites to monitor urgent social and environmental issues; to the emerging reality of space tourism; to our ever-improving capability to see deep into the Universe, the UK space sector is at the forefront of facing up to these challenges.

During the conference prospective UK astronaut Tim Peake, currently in the USA, addressed the conference via a Skype video link.

Shaun Kenyon, who has worked on the innovative STRaND-1 SmartPhone satellite project, gave a well received presentation about the future opportunities for the UK Space Industry. He also described another UK first – STRaND-2 – twin 3U CubeSats with docking capabilities using a gridded Lidar system based on that used in the Kinect games controller.

Surrey Space Centre http://www.surrey.ac.uk/ssc/
STRaND on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/nanosats

'Kinect' STRaND-2 at UK Space Agency Conference

Tim Peake at UKSA Conference 20120426

Prospective UK Astronaut Tim Peake addressed the conference via Skype

On the anniversary of the launch of Ariel-1, April 26, the UK Space Agency and the Science Museum co-hosted a two-day conference celebrating 50 years of the UK in space. It brought together those who started the UK on the road to being a world-renowned centre for space technology and research with the scientists and engineers of the next fifty years.

Vince Cable at UKSA Conference 20120426

Vince Cable Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Ariel-1 was the world’s first international satellite. The United Kingdom stepped up to an offer from NASA to launch scientific satellites at an international meeting on space research in 1959. From this point, the UK took the lead in satellite technology as well as beginning the UK’s long history of international collaboration.

As part of the programme on the 26th, there were personal insights from scientists and engineers involved in the original design and build of the Ariel series of satellites, as well as those teams developing the flagship programmes of today and tomorrow. The Science Museum will be highlighting historic milestones in the UK space sector over the course of the week.

Shaun Kenyon at UKSA Conference 20120426

Shaun Kenyon of the STRaND project

The future is set to be as innovative and inspirational as the last 50 years. There is a vast potential for space technology. From the growing need for Earth observation satellites to monitor urgent social and environmental issues; to the emerging reality of space tourism; to our ever-improving capability to see deep into the Universe, the UK space sector is at the forefront of facing up to these challenges.

During the conference prospective UK astronaut Tim Peake, currently in the USA, addressed the conference via a Skype video link.

Shaun Kenyon, who has worked on the innovative STRaND-1 SmartPhone satellite project, gave a well received presentation about the future opportunities for the UK Space Industry. He also described another UK first – STRaND-2 – twin 3U CubeSats with docking capabilities using a gridded Lidar system based on that used in the Kinect games controller.

Surrey Space Centre http://www.surrey.ac.uk/ssc/
STRaND on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/nanosats