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Engineering students on path to build fully functioning satellite

Engineering students on path to build fully functioning satellite

Founded in August 2010, engineering student organization SDSL works to design, manufacture and launch fully functioning space satellites. Photo by Jessica Slater/ASU.

The Sun Devil Satellite Laboratory (SDSL) organization at Arizona State University recently held a critical design review (CDR) for their latest project. The Sun Devil Satellite 1 (SDS-1) is a fully operating satellite that has just completed the design phase. On Oct. 4, 2011, the team presented their progress on SDS-1.

Founded in August 2010, SDSL is an engineering student organization whose main goal is to design, manufacture and launch fully functioning space satellites. The members of SDSL have been the sole creators of the SDS-1 project.

The SDS-1 is a solar imaging spacecraft that was designed with the specific purpose of implementing the Flare Initiation Doppler Imager, a camera designed by NASA. At the CDR, the student members that created SDS-1 presented their current progress to a reviewing panel. The reviewing panel consisted of engineers with experience in the field of space satellite design. These engineers also helped with advising for the SDS-1 project, making them familiar with the project and the work that the
students have put into it.

Lasting four and a half hours, the CDR had eight reviewers, three spectators, and 10 presenting students from SDSL. The review consisted of several presentations with question and answer segments between each. The individual presentations focused on one specific subsystem that helped make up the SDS-1.

Aaron Goldstein, the program manager for the SDS 1 project was very satisfied with the response that the team received from the reviewing panel during the CDR. “I believe the review was a success,” Goldstein explains. “We received positive marks on the project as a whole, and were given the go ahead to move on to the next phase of the project.”

“It’s very rare for an engineering student to be able to be involved in a project like this,” says Goldstein. Novice engineers are not usually involved in every stage of designing a satellite, so it is very unique for engineering students to experience such intimate involvement with the field of satellite engineering.

According to Goldstein, “SDSL is not only great educational experience, it’s great industry experience, too.”

The success of the CDR is a great achievement for the SDSL team. It has given the students a taste of the dedication and discipline that is expected in their field. Through the CDR, they experienced the valuable process of arranging their work for presentation and preparing to explain and defend it. Their work and attention to detail during the preliminary design phase is now allowing them to continue on to integration and testing. The SDSL members are on their way to building the organization’s first satellite ever.

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