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Rocket University CubeSat (Rubics)

ROCKET UNIVERSITY STUDENTS DESIGN CUBESAT AVIONICS AND POWER SYSTEMS

The Rocket University (RU) Broad Initiatives CubeSat (RUBICS) project aims to characterize nanolaunchers and provide them with a usable low-cost avionics system design.  For the first mission in this project, called RUBICS-1, RU students partnered with Garvey Spacecraft, which provided a launcher for the CubeSat. The RU students developed a small avionics package that contained a microcontroller, GPS receiver, Inertial Navigation System (INS) and a Transceiver for radio frequency (RF) communication.

The power system on RUBICS-1 was also designed by RU students.  The CubeSat external structure was purchased from a CubeSat vendor, while the NASA Prototype Shop designed and built the internal structure of the CubeSat which housed all of the electronics.

RUBICS-1 launched on the Garvey Spacecraft P-18 rocket on June 15, 2013. During ascent, the rocket experienced a failure which caused the parachute to deploy prematurely, and the RUBICS-1 payload incurred damage due to its position high up in the payload fairing. Although the flight recorder onboard the CubeSat incurred irrecoverable damage and all of the recorded data was lost, a subset of the recorded data was telemetered to the ground live during the launch, preserving some of the launch information. As a result, the failure on the P-18 rocket launch provided invaluable data to the team on the performance of the CubeSat, and overall, RUBICS-1 met all of the mission goals and performed per design.

 

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