McGill Space Group
One of the founding values of the McGill Space Group (MSG) is the belief that a comprehensive approach needs to be taken when furthering human activity in space. For this reason the MSG is a multi-disciplinary group that is comprised of Technical Research, Design Teams (CSDC, SEDS), and Educational Outreach. With these different facets, the MSG acts as a key contributor in the Canadian space sector.
CSDC Team and Subteams
The Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) requires teams to design, build, test and launch a 3U CubeSat in lower earth orbit with a star tracker payload.
The MSG believes that one of the most adequate methods of learning engineering is by working on projects thereby learning the design process in a team. The CSDC group provides the opportunity for students to learn through designing and building. By competing in the CSDC, students gain experience in many engineering disciplines, they will learn how to work in a team and will gain various soft skills.
Choosing the operating system, the on-board computer and software design are few of the many things that the software team needs to figure out. All of which will ensure that we keep track of all processes such as resources monitoring, payload operations, communication between all subsystems, etc.
Ensuring a good link between the ground station and our orbiting satellite is necessary for the mission to be successful. A dedicated team will design and test the antennas, the communication modules for both ground station and the orbiter.
The payload is nothing less than the purpose of this whole endeavor. Every iteration of the CSDC is a different surprise and it requires a lot of creative problem solving and adaptation from the team members. Our first participation led us to design our very own StarTracker. The second iteration consists of an Earth-Observing camera that receives requests from different institutions such as schools and university to take a picture of their location.
Power management consists of choosing the right solar panels, batteries for our satellite such that we maximize the energy that can be used by every sub-systems. They also make a power budget for each and different operation modes which will dictate how power gets distributed over the different elements.
The skeleton of our satellite is a crucial part of the competition. The main purpose is to create, build and test a solid, yet light structure (30x10x10cm) that's thermally stable, and that can resist mechanical stress due to launch. Since it also acts as the cage in which the core of our system will lay, it must account for every mounting points while keeping everything well balance to accommodate control systems.
Being able to control a satellite in space is no small feat. By choosing different control systems, this team will be able to re-orient our satellite in the right direction (for taking pictures or even optimizing our sun alignment), which will allow our satellite to function properly and complete its mission.
Assembly Testing and Integration
None of this would be feasible if we were not to test everything and integrate our system. By running different simulations/tests, we can determine the solidity, reliability of our CubeSat. It is at this point that we quickly have to re-adjust and re-think some of our designs and make sure that our system is space-ready.
Demystifying outer space, to bring it into the classroom.
Our goal, as a team, is to construct different educational programs targeted for Elementary School, High School, CEGEP, but also for general public. We want to show, by the means of teaching, that the future of space is not only reserved to astronauts, physicists and engineers. It is also a future that has a need for other disciplines such as Law, Politics, Finance, and many more.
By making this a priority in the classroom, we make sure that every young student gets to know what they can really bring to the table. Our project aims to spark the interest of space in schools, and show that space is not just another far-fetched, or even impossible, dream.
Business and Finances
While the technical and educational stuff is pretty amazing, none of it could happen without the help of a good business and finance team. Looking for sponsorship, making contact with industry partners, keeping our accounts in the green while ensuring good financial health, allowing the team to purchase equipment and parts, etc.