IIT Hyderabad Student Satellite Project was a student-developed, student-run satellite program which ran from August 2014 to December 2015 (my sophomore and junior year in undergrad). It aimed to launch a 3U CubeSat (10cm x 10cm x 30cm) in the Low Earth Orbit. The primary payload objective of this nanosatellite was to provide communication services over the Indian subcontinent as a demonstration mission.
This project had over 40 core members comprising of undergraduates, master's and PhD students who worked in various subsystems to bring our collective vision to reality. It was led by Mr. Shanti Swaroop Kandala, a doctoral candidate in the Dept. of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. Different faculty members from IIT Hyderabad and dignitaries from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) & DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) acted as our mentors, providing us with invaluable insights and suggestions throughout the way.
I was a part of Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem whose primary responsibility was to orient and maintain the spacecraft in desired attitude, once in orbit. This ensured that we achieved the payload objective. We performed the feasibility study of magnetorquers, reaction wheels, Control Moment Gyros (CMGs), sun and star sensor. Given the sheer amount of work across different sub-teams in different phases of the project, it is hard to summarize the work but I will try to compile the reports and learning at various stages in this blog post.
Phase 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D
In the beginning, we were divided in group and were given the task to come up with different payload ideas. They were later evaluated on the following criteria to move for the next phase -
It involved extensive literature study of the previous student satellite programs and current pressing problems on Earth which could benefit from our satellite in space. Top two ideas from each team moved ahead for the next phase. Ideas 5(a) and 5(b) are my contribution.
Now it was time to go further deep into each of these ideas and determine the technology requirements.
Then came the subsystem requirements if we were to go ahead with current idea -
After the payload selection stage, we finally settled on a communication satellite over Indian Subcontinent. It was time to focus on the attitude determination and control, so we had to look into different Commercial off-the-shelf options and narrow it down to one or two suitable ones -
- How to conduct efficient literature study
- Evaluating ideas on specified criteria
- Choosing the right components for the project
- Working in a big team
- Taking other sub-team requirements into consideration for design analysis
- Effective communication of ideas
- Taking accountability of your work and defending your choice through proper research and science-based arguments
- Feasibility study, cost analysis, system integration
- Mathematical modeling
- Control system design
- MATLAB simulation