Sapling - Now in Orbit!
September 20, 2023
Now soaring in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) 500km above the Earth's surface, SSI Satellites is excited to announce the launch of Sapling Gigantium to space. As we move into next year, Satellites will continue working on radio communications with Gigantium while advancing our development of Magnifica, a 1U satellite whose mission is to take a photo in space.
Sapling Giganteum is a 1U satellite based of the PyCubed cubesat microcontroller. It has a custom, magnetorquer-based ADCS system, custom side panels, and a custom power system. The bus is open-source and we work actively with other university and high school cubesat teams to build up similar programs. At the beginning of the quarter, the Satellites team traveled to Vandenburg, CA to see Sapling Giganteum launch to space on Space's Transporter 7 mission. After deployment from an Exolaunch Exopod, we successfully received packets shortly after midnight on April 16th. The telemetry we received indicates that power and radio systems are working as expected. As of now, our satellite has sent over 32.3 MB of data to TinGS ground stations around the globe! To communicate with our satellite, our team leverages an antenna on the Durand Building to send and receive LoRa radio signals at 433MHz. Over the next year we plan on adding additional transmission capabilities at 2400 MHz to increase data rate which will better allow for the transmission of images from future satellites. To view the network of groundstations which can receive packets from Gigantium, you can view our satellite under the name "Sapling" in TinGS! Check it out at tings.com/satellite/Sapling.
Our next launch is coming up soon this fall on SpaceX's Transporter 9. This satellite has new power systems, improved magnetorquer side panels for ADCS, and an improved camera for imaging the earth. We recently completed a shock and vibration test for launch at Quanta Labs. Leading into Summer, our team will be testing radio communication and developing the software to take photos from space.
Through the Wende Museum, a sponsor of the Satellites team, we have been filming a documentary of our process for bringing satellites to space. Additionally, we had students from Irvington High school's Girls-in-STEM club join during a day of filming as we mentor them through the process of building their very own CubeSat. Over the Summer, our team is excited to announce that we will be hosting a series of workshops with Irvington High school discussing satellite development and operations with material on avionics, software, policy, and groundstations.