Written by Cesar Ocampo, Associate Professor

Faster, Cheaper, Better, Smaller, and Smarter

These are the goals that a group of UT students are striving for in their design and fabrication of a one kilogram pico-satellite. The team is comprised mostly of aerospace engineering majors and is being lead by ASE senior Karla Vega. It is proposing to develop, build, test, and operate an affordable plug and play satellite system that will incorporate internal wireless communication technology, while simultaneously creating an infrastructure for future pico-satellite missions. The experiment may also serve as a precursor for more complex satellites in the future.

The structural form of the pico-satellite is based on the CubeSat concept proposed by Professor Robert Twiggs of Stanford University, which was to develop a satellite system simple enough to be designed, built, and flown by undergraduate students in a time frame of twelve to twenty-four months. Several CubeSats have already flown in space, and if successful, UT Austin’s first CubeSat could be in space by as early as 2006 or 2007. The UT pico-satellite will be launched onboard a converted Russian SS-18 ICBM along with larger satellites and other CubeSats. The University of Texas CubeSat project is entitled “JANUS”, in reference to the ‘god of new beginnings’. The team is composed of an interdisciplinary group of UT students, and a portion of the project is being sponsored by National Instruments.

For more informationvisit the UT CubeSat website