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Mar 13, 2018 - Science and innovations
FEFU students develop small spacecraft at Project Activity Center

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A small spacecraft with a solar sail is being developed by students at the Project Activity Center of Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU). The new technology will help solve the problem of space debris disposal and minimize fuel costs for transferring satellites from orbit to orbit.  

Graduate students of the School of Engineering Dmitry Rychkov, Sarkis Zakaryan, Anton Abramov, Alexey Smolnikov and a fourth-year student of the School of Natural Sciences Konstantin Fedorov are working on the project. As the students point out, in the near future a number of world space companies will begin to deploy multisatellite groups in the near-Earth orbit for communications and Earth surveys from space. Thousands of new satellites are projected to appear by 2025. In 5-7 years after the launch they will break down and become dangerous for the working satellites.

The FEFU students propose to equip each satellite with a unified container, which automatically expands the solar sail at the end of the device's service life and causes natural braking. Thus, by gradually reducing the altitude of the orbit, the satellite will enter the atmosphere and burn. On the other hand, the sail can be used to accelerate the device, catching the pressure of the sun's rays, same as the sailboat while sailing in the wind. Thus, we can gradually increase the height of the orbit and even go beyond the gravitational field of the Earth.

The project participants have already created a dimensional model of the future device, the main elements of which have been printed on a 3D printer and made of aluminum.

"The end result of our work will be the creation of a universal compartment with a sail in the 3U CubeSat format, which we propose to install on various spacecraft," said graduate student Sarkis Zakaryan. "In the near future, we will work out the system of storage and deployment of the sail, we will clarify the mathematical and numerical models for controlling it in orbit, and then we will proceed to develop and manufacture the design, electronics and on-board software for ground-based testing of the technology demonstration satellite. Then we plan to assemble the flight model, and, of course, we are waiting for real tests in space. "

Participation in NTI Sputnik Challenge, an international space competitions of engineering teams under the aegis of the National Technological Initiative, may be an important step in the development of the FEFU student project. Students of Russian universities will create CubeSats (small space satellites) with a sail at the competition, and the best ones will get an opportunity to launch their device into orbit.

The Project Activity Center began to work at FEFU in 2017. This is a platform where students of different areas of study realize their own ideas or integrate into existing projects. Future economists, marketers, lawyers, engineers and designers can show their professional skills under the guidance of practitioner mentors. The team advisers are the FEFU faculty and staff, businessmen and experts of leading companies.

The project activities are focused on six areas: Architecture and Design, Internet of Things and Big Data, Robotics, Bioengineering, Spacecraft and Multisatellite Orbital Systems, and Engineering Laboratory.

Do you want to become a resident of the FEFU Project Activity Center? Call: +7 (916) 527-47-98.

Follow the Center news in the VK group: https://vk.com/cpddvfu .