The goal of this project is to create a foundational enabler in the form of a low-cost CubeSat kit and develop an undergraduate course that transitions into an online course in the public domain. The objective of Phase 1 is to develop a kit that contains all subsystems of a fully functioning passive small satellite, or smallsat, with a target price of less than 5,000 USD.
The general capabilities of the standard unit satellite, known as a 1U CubeSat, include onboard computing, radio communication, rudimentary dynamic sensors, basic infrared camera, and an electrical power system. The hardware components are designed to be the most basic functionality of a small spacecraft with basic science tutorials based upon lunar science, raising awareness of the NASA Artemis missions. Electrical and digital interfaces will be designed to follow the CubeSat Kit Bus (CSKB) to allow easy connection to an attitude control system, additional science payloads, or propulsion components. The complete kit will include the necessary software to receive and command telemetry, visualize data, and develop software.
An online spacecraft design lab course will be developed around the kit and released in Phase 2. Developing this low-cost kit is quintessential to link spacecraft design theory to reality. As the ultimate hardware platform will be a CubeSat, the spacecraft design lectures will focus on the nuances associated with smallsat design and capabilities. This topic is not typically taught and further, a spacecraft lab course is extremely rare. By reinforcing the theoretical curriculum with direct ties to hardware, students can truly ingrain the subject matter learned from a conventional classroom setting, a feeling so often felt in classes solely based on lectures. We are proving that smallsats are absolutely within the realm of an undergraduate education and will develop this course into a national online course in the public domain through a popular online learning platform.