USC nanosatellite blasts off from Cape Canaveral on SpaceX launch

Dec 13, 2010
This USC-built cubesat unit is now part of MAYFLOWER satellite in earth orbit. Credit: SERC/CAERUS

and went perfectly -- December 8 at Cape Canaveral, with the newly developed Falcon 9 heavy lift vehicle sending into earth orbit a packet of nanosatellites, including a unit that the USC Viterbi School's Information Sciences Institute (ISI) and its Department of Astronautical Engineering's Space Engineering Research Center (SERC) jointly played a key role in developing.

This was only the second flight of SpaceX's Falcon 9 and the first commercial flight of a recoverable capsule, the Dragon. By demonstrating the ability to carry astronauts to the (ISS), the launch was widely regarded as a breakthrough for the private space industry.

The orbiting packet, a three-unit "cubesat" called "MAYFLOWER," is a Next Generation Technology Nanosatellite that is a joint effort between USC, Northrop Grumman's NOVAWORKS Division and other companies. USC supplied one of the three units, named CAERUS (the Greek word for "opportunity") to support communications.

MAYFLOWER is now orbiting around the earth about every 90 minutes at an altitude of more than 300 kilometers.

The CAERUS team included David Barnhart, who originated space projects at ISI, and Senior Design Engineer Tim Barrett. Technical specialists are Will Bezouska, Michael Aherne and Jeff Sachs.

Working with a host of undergraduate and graduate students from the Viterbi School's Department of Astronautical Engineering and other engineering departments, the team delivered CAERUS just 14 weeks after receiving authorization to proceed on the project.

USC Professors Joseph Kunc and Daniel Erwin led the campus teams from the Department of Astronautical Engineering and SERC. A joint effort between Astronautics and ISI, SERC's expertise and student involvement provided critical support for the rapid ground-station development timeline.

"We are proud to be associated with a paradigm shift in space flight," said Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the Viterbi School.

"It was indeed a great day for USC," said Joseph Sullivan, associate director at Information Sciences Institute. "The first flight is the hardest to achieve."

"It is amazing what can be accomplished in an 'engineering teaching hospital' environment by students with a passion for space," said Kunc.

The SERC and ISI will go back into space in 2011 with a different satellite project, another three-unit , this one called AENEAS, that also is being developed at ISI with SERC. CAERUS components and software are similar to AENEAS, allowing USC a very rare risk mitigation test of its hardware – the 'opportunity' referred to in the CAERUS name -- before delivery of AENEAS.

Explore further: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

More information: http://www.isi.edu/projects/serc/caerus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US space capsule launch set for Wednesday

Dec 07, 2010

A US company has received the go-ahead to launch its first space capsule into orbit Wednesday, in a key test for the future of commercial space flight as NASA looks to end its shuttle program.

Bringing order to 'what if?'

May 31, 2007

[B]USC builds a risk assessment system for the Department of Homeland Security[/B] A team working under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security-funded Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of ...

NASA's Webb telescope's systems engineering evolves

Oct 18, 2010

As the James Webb Space Telescope enters its next critical phase of development NASA and Northrop Grumman Corporation have forged an integrated, consolidated and "badgeless" Mission Systems Engineering team.

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

Dec 19, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

Dec 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Dec 19, 2014

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.