USC nanosatellite blasts off from Cape Canaveral on SpaceX launch

December 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: US space capsule launch set for Wednesday

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

Related Stories

US space capsule launch set for Wednesday

December 7, 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 Terrorism Events ...

NASA's Webb telescope's systems engineering evolves

October 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

Evidence of giant tsunami on Mars suggests an early ocean

March 27, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with members from France, Italy and the U.S. has found what they believe is evidence of a giant tsunami occurring on Mars approximately 3 billion years ago due to an asteroid plunging into ...

The fate of exomoons

March 27, 2017

When a star like our sun gets to be very old, after another seven billion years or so, it will shrink to a fraction of its radius and become a white dwarf star, no longer able to sustain nuclear burning. Studying the older ...

Supersonic plasma jets discovered

March 27, 2017

Information from ESA's magnetic field Swarm mission has led to the discovery of supersonic plasma jets high up in our atmosphere that can push temperatures up to almost 10 000°C.

Spacewalk a success for French, US astronauts

March 24, 2017

A French and an American astronaut floated outside the International Space Station Friday on a successful spacewalk to upgrade the orbiting outpost for the arrival of future space crews.

0 comments

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.