Hackspace Magazine: Propelled by community

My column in the new issue of HackSpace magazine focuses on open source rocketry and space projects. Download the PDF and turn to page 25:

We are always excited to see what Applied Ion is making on Twitter:

Hackspace Magazine: Propelled by community

Hackspace Magazine: Open Source Space

Drew’s column in the new HackSpace magazine is dedicated to open source space projects like PSAS, OreSat, SatNOGS and the Libre Space Foundation:

Open Source Space

Space exploration is usually associated with national agencies like NASA, or with private corporations such as SpaceX. However, there now is a growing movement of people who believe that space shouldn’t be limited to governments and companies, and that space exploration can be made more accessible with Open Source technologies.

SatNOGS won the first Hackaday Prize back in 2014 with their global network of Open Source satellite receivers. There were already a number of amateur satellites in space that had been designed and launched by universities and space enthusiasts from all over the world. However, until SatNOGS came along there was no way of getting regular data for your satellite, as it would only pass within reading range a handful of times per day. The success of the SatNOGS project led to the creation of the Libre Space Foundation.

The Libre Space Foundation, founded in Greece, aims to make space exploration accessible by developing free and Open Source technologies. Alongside infrastructure projects including the SatNOGs satellite receivers, they work on satellites and rocketry. Their UPSat was the first Open Source hardware satellite, and it was successfully delivered to the International Space Station then deployed into orbit in 2017. This deployment was a remarkable achievement: a real milestone in Open Source space exploration.

Whenever I’m in Oregon, I make sure to visit Portland State Aerospace Society (PSAS), an interdisciplinary, Open Source student aerospace project at Portland State University. PSAS makes composite amateur rockets, liquid fueled rocket engines, and CubeSats (a type of small satellite made up of 10cm3 units). Over the last 20 years PSAS have had 13 launches of four generations of amateur rockets. Their current rocket is Launch Vehicle No 3.1, a four meter tall solid fueled rocket that goes up to about 5km.

PSAS is also developing a CubeSat project called OreSat. OreSat is an impressive Open Source system of modular, expandable satellite designs. Their first small satellite, OreSat0, should be completed in November then dropped off in a sun synchronous low earth orbit in February 2021. All of the hardware and software developed at PSAS can be found on their GitHub page.

Hackspace Magazine: Open Source Space

Portland State Aerospace Society competes in collegiate space race

PSU Vanguard writes about our local aerospace team:

Portland State Aerospace Society competes in collegiate space race

Three current projects at Portland State Aerospace Society (PSAS) funnel into one ambitious goal: building a liquid fuel rocket capable of soaring to the edge of space—100 kilometers above Earth’s surface.

Tool boxes, red countdown timers, clocks set to different time zones, a workbench with satellite components and a wall of rockets surround an oval conference table. The PSAS room—located in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science building—is a cross between an engineer’s workshop and NASA control room. PSAS members utilize the space to work on a new carbon fiber airframe, a liquid fuel rocket engine and Oregon’s first satellite as they compete in Base 11—a collegiate space race where the first team to launch a liquid fuel rocket to the edge of space wins a million dollars.

Each PSAS rocket is called a launch vehicle (LV) and is given a numeric value for every new iteration. The current rocket is LV 3.1.

“LV0 was just an off the shelf rocket kit that Andrew [Greenberg]—our faculty advisor—and a couple other people started PSAS with,” said PSAS member Jean-Pierre Pillay. “After that it went to LV1 and then LV2, LV2.1, LV2.1.3 as small iterations are made.”

The final project of the three that are funneling into the liquid fuel rocket is OreSat—the first satellite built in Oregon.

“It’s a tiny cubesat, about 10-by-10-by-20 centimeters, which is what’s called a 2U cubesat,” said David Lay, electrical systems intern for OreSat and electrical engineering lead for PSAS. “’U’ is a standard unit that’s defined by the cubesat standard.”

The plan is for OreSat to be passed along from PSAS to NASA in January 2021 then flown up to the International Space Station (ISS) in April of the same year, where it will be ejected from one of the space station’s airlocks.

Andrew Greenberg, faculty advisor for PSAS, explained in an interview that “the electronic systems that [they] built for the rockets are very satellite-like” with batteries, processors and communications gears which led to the creation of OreSat.

A primary mission of OreSat is STEM outreach. High school students are able to build hand-held ground stations that can interact with the tiny satellite’s camera.

“What they do is point it up and when we do a fly by overhead with our satellite we turn the satellite towards them and we downlink a live video feed of them from space,” Lay explained. “So we call it the 400 kilometer selfie-stick.”

Portland State Aerospace Society competes in collegiate space race

Applied Ion Systems: open source space propulsion

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Michael Bretti of Applied Ion Systems describes open source space propulsion at the 2020 Open Hardware Summit:

Applied Ion Systems is creating open source electric propulsion systems

Applied Ion Systems initially started out of a personal hobbyist effort to share projects involving plasma systems, particle beams, and and high vacuum projects.   Later, as I began to expand my efforts and meet awesome makers around the world, I began focusing my efforts on open source electric propulsion for small satellites, such as PocketQubes and CubeSats.

Eventually, this effort evolved into the world’s first and only open-source home-based electric propulsion program, working on cutting edge plasma and ion thrusters for small satellites on a hobbyist level budget.

My main objective was to provide intensive engineering resources, data, and system designs for the community to help lower the barriers of entry into the field, and allow enthusiasts to follow along the journey of creating and testing these advanced systems, with the ultimate goal of developing low-cost, easy-to-use, fully integrated space-qualified thrusters.

Applied Ion Systems: open source space propulsion