[Kentucky Space readers: the series of posts from a one-day conference held yesterday in Lexington, Kentucky are grouped under Kentucky Space Conference '08 in the category cloud on the blog. Image: Dr. Malphrus]
University of Kentucky student Michael Gailey, who is developing some of the testing facilities for the Kentucky cube, is up and is discussing spacecraft testing. Because there are no Jiffy Lubes in orbit, rigorous testing on the ground prior to launch is required, he jokes.
Threats in space include radiation, heat on the sun-side of Earth, and cold when in the shadow of the planet. Throw in the hard vacuum of space and the operating environment is hostile.
Michael displays a picture of the thermal vacuum facility being build at the University of Kentucky now. It will simulate the space environment - thermally cycling the cube from hot to cold and back again, and performing a "bakeout," which tests for any undesirable outgassing from the cube that might pose a threat to other spacecraft on the ride to space.
The shaker will be able to shake a 50 pound satellites on three axis in order to meet the NASA standard for durability while the craft is encased in the P-POD on the rocket.
A clean room is also being built ensure that no foreign components make their way into the cube. The room will meet "class 100" clean room standards.
Showing a picture of the room, Gailey says it's a great place to be if you have allergies.
Dr. Ben Malphrus, who is a Morehead State University faculty advisor for the ground portion of KySat, is up next.
The big project has been the development of the 21 meter dual-use space tracking antenna. It's 82 feet in height. And coming in at roughly 300,000 pounds, it is capable, as he says, of very wide range of motion in altitude and azimuth. The dish has also been designed to operate at K and KU bands to push the broadband envelope.
This antenna is capable of both radio astronomy and the support of satellite missions. It can provide long term monitoring campaigns, sky surveys (dynamic mapping of HI in the Milky Way) and the study of galactic supernova remnants.
Morehead State is very fortunate to have such a world class instrument, he says.
MSU has also obtained an anechoic chamber from Lockhead Martin, which it rebuilt. It simulates the EM environment of space.
Lastly, in development at Morehead is a Space Science Center and Research, Development and Educational Facility, which will permit control of the antenna and include a Digital Star Theater. This building is currently under construction and Dr. Malphrus treats everyone to some pictures - which also show, by the way, the radio antenna on a hill in the background. The building will be devoted exclusively to space sciences, and probably, he adds, wouldn't have been possible without an initiative such as those coming from Kentucky Space.
Here's the takeaway from these two speakers: The physical infrastructure to support Kentucky Space is being built now. The capacity to design, build, test and validate flight hardware in Kentucky is likewise being developed.
As Dr. Malphrus points out, "These are big results are coming from a very small cube."