Session

Swifty Session 8: Propulsion

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

New Space technology for Small Satellites has greatly advanced in the past five years. These progresses shall match with a swift integration and testing phase, to be readily marketable, therefore IOD missions are essential to expedite project outcomes.

GAUSS has started working on Small Satellites since 1990s, with its first satellite, UNISAT, launched in 2000. In 2013, UNISAT-5 was the first platform to accomplish in-orbit-release of third-party satellites, with UNISAT-6 following in less than one year.

UNISAT-7 is the latest addition to the UNISAT series: a 32kg microsatellite designed and manufactured by GAUSS Srl (a spin-off company of Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, Sapienza University of Roma), built from scratch thanks to the extensive experience gained with past missions. Launch is scheduled in in Q1 2021.

It is the most complex mission ever flown by GAUSS, and it includes several original GAUSS subsystems developed for Earth Observation, sat-to-ground optical links, navigation, power, RF, and Smallsat in-orbit-deployments. All these subsystems are tested in orbit in specific IOD missions.

Moreover, UNISAT-7 integrates a precise ADCS solution and a newly developed low-thrust, electric propulsion system named REGULUS, from Italian Company Technology for Propulsion and Innovation (T4i), which will allow the satellite to modify its final orbit, as well as to execute housekeeping maneuvers for drag compensation.

REGULUS is a propulsive unit based on MEPT (Magnetically Enhanced Plasma Thruster) technology developed inside the propulsion laboratory of the University of Padua. T4i, born as a Spin-off of the University of Padua, industrialized this technology in order to make it fly. REGULUS is T4i very first product that has ever flown into space. Its envelope is 1.5 U of volume, it is equipped with solid iodine propellant and its main features are a thrust level of 0.55 mN and Isp of 550 s at 50 W of input power, and wet mass of 2.5 kg at 3000 Ns of Itot. REGULUS is designed to serve nanosatellite platforms from 6U to 24U and CubeSat carriers.

The integration took place in GAUSS white chamber in Rome in late 2020 and the launch is scheduled in March 2021 from Baikonur as a secondary payload of Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat.

Performances of REGULUS propulsion system are evaluated after the initial commissioning of UNISAT-7.

This key IOD mission paves the way to next UNISAT programs, where GAUSS microsatellites will be able to execute orbital maneuvers before any single CubeSat deployment, in order to efficiently shape customized constellations by using UNISATs as autonomous vehicles for in-orbit-deployment. Provide an informative abstract of no more than 500 words. The abstract should stand alone as a summary of the paper, not as an introduction (i.e., no numerical references). Type the abstract across both columns and fully justified.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 7th, 12:00 AM

UNISAT-7: A Flexible IOD Platform with Orbital Maneuvering Capabilities

Utah State University, Logan, UT

New Space technology for Small Satellites has greatly advanced in the past five years. These progresses shall match with a swift integration and testing phase, to be readily marketable, therefore IOD missions are essential to expedite project outcomes.

GAUSS has started working on Small Satellites since 1990s, with its first satellite, UNISAT, launched in 2000. In 2013, UNISAT-5 was the first platform to accomplish in-orbit-release of third-party satellites, with UNISAT-6 following in less than one year.

UNISAT-7 is the latest addition to the UNISAT series: a 32kg microsatellite designed and manufactured by GAUSS Srl (a spin-off company of Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, Sapienza University of Roma), built from scratch thanks to the extensive experience gained with past missions. Launch is scheduled in in Q1 2021.

It is the most complex mission ever flown by GAUSS, and it includes several original GAUSS subsystems developed for Earth Observation, sat-to-ground optical links, navigation, power, RF, and Smallsat in-orbit-deployments. All these subsystems are tested in orbit in specific IOD missions.

Moreover, UNISAT-7 integrates a precise ADCS solution and a newly developed low-thrust, electric propulsion system named REGULUS, from Italian Company Technology for Propulsion and Innovation (T4i), which will allow the satellite to modify its final orbit, as well as to execute housekeeping maneuvers for drag compensation.

REGULUS is a propulsive unit based on MEPT (Magnetically Enhanced Plasma Thruster) technology developed inside the propulsion laboratory of the University of Padua. T4i, born as a Spin-off of the University of Padua, industrialized this technology in order to make it fly. REGULUS is T4i very first product that has ever flown into space. Its envelope is 1.5 U of volume, it is equipped with solid iodine propellant and its main features are a thrust level of 0.55 mN and Isp of 550 s at 50 W of input power, and wet mass of 2.5 kg at 3000 Ns of Itot. REGULUS is designed to serve nanosatellite platforms from 6U to 24U and CubeSat carriers.

The integration took place in GAUSS white chamber in Rome in late 2020 and the launch is scheduled in March 2021 from Baikonur as a secondary payload of Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat.

Performances of REGULUS propulsion system are evaluated after the initial commissioning of UNISAT-7.

This key IOD mission paves the way to next UNISAT programs, where GAUSS microsatellites will be able to execute orbital maneuvers before any single CubeSat deployment, in order to efficiently shape customized constellations by using UNISATs as autonomous vehicles for in-orbit-deployment. Provide an informative abstract of no more than 500 words. The abstract should stand alone as a summary of the paper, not as an introduction (i.e., no numerical references). Type the abstract across both columns and fully justified.