FluxCube is a mission to launch a small satellite into Earth orbit to test flux-pinning technology. It is developed by the Cornell University Space Systems Design Studio in an effort to prove a technology under research, as well as demonstrate small satellite rapid development with ambitious budgetary and schedule constraints. FluxCube is designed to the CubeSat small satellite standard, draws on the heritage of Cornell's ICECubeSat and CUSat, and tests hardware and processes for Cornell's Violet satellite.
The satellite demonstrates flux-pinning, a method of 6 degree of freedom non-contacting attitude control that takes advantage of the interaction between a high-temperature superconductor and a magnetic field. The mission proves the capability of the technology in a potential application and circumstance, on board a small satellite in Earth orbit. More information about flux-pinning and potential space applications can be found at Flux-Pinned Spacecraft
FluxCube is also a test of the ability of the Space Systems Design Studio to demonstrate rapid end-to-end development of a mission. Given a technology of interest and the resources of the Design Studio, FluxCube conceptualizes, designs, integrates and flies a satellite on a short schedule and with a small, dedicated team. The systems engineering practices and lessons learned of a small team project can be applied and scaled for future flight projects.
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The FluxCube satellite is a 2U CubeSat based on the CalPoly CubeSat standard for small satellites. It shares design and integration standards with common satellites, like Cornell University's ICECubeSat mission.
The satellite bus consists of the components that allow the performance of the experiment to be possible and that facilitate reporting the data to the ground. A 1.5U CubeSat Kit skeletonized structure houses the bus components. Control is executed by a CubeSat Kit FM430 Flight Module, which is a PC/104 form factor board constructed around the TI MSP430 MCU. The satellite is powered by solar power that is store in the ClydeSpace EPS module. Communications functions are executed by the Wood & Douglas RSX450 modem and radio assembly that transmits on the 70cm amateur radio band.
The payload system executes the experiment and communicates the results to the bus. A high-temperature superconductor, YBCO, is cooled below its critical temperature by the Ricor K508 Stirling cryocooler while in the presence of a separate permanent magnet module. The module is actuated in 6DOF by six electromagnets. The attitude of the module is sensed by six Firstmark Controls linear position transducers. The payload functions similarly to a Stewart Platform, actuating and sensing motion in 6DOF.
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FluxCube shares its ground segment with other flight projects in the Space Systems Design Studio. It communicates on amateur frequency bands and uses ground stations in Ithaca, NY and Kwajelein Atoll as transceivers. The space segment is operated by L3 Communications' InControl software.
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- Matthew Safran
- Eugene Chang
- Matthew Low
- Jason Evans
- Peter Sullivan
- Joseph Shoer
- William Wilson
- Liran Gazit
- Cornell University Engineering Learning Initiatives
- Air Force Office of Scientific Research
- Air Force Research Laboratory