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Design, Build, and Test of Engineering Development Spacecraft Hardware in a Satellite Design Course at the Air Force Institute of Technology

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2012 ASEE International Forum


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 9, 2012

Start Date

June 9, 2012

End Date

June 10, 2012

Conference Session

International Forum Poster Session & Welcome Reception: Sponsored by Quanser and Cypress Semiconductors

Tagged Topic

ASEE International Forum

Page Count


Page Numbers

17.15.1 - 17.15.11



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Paper Authors


Margaret Pearl Lyn Blackstun Air Force Institute of Technology

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Lt. Margaret Blackstun graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering and a minor in Russian Language in May 2010. In September 2010 she entered teh Graduate School of Engineering and Management, Air Force Institute of Technology. She received a Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering in March 2012. She is currently assigned to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH.

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ASEE International Forum 2012 Abstract Margaret Blackstun, Eric Swenson Design, Build, and Test of Engineering Development Spacecraft Hardware in a Satellite Design Course at the Air Force Institute of TechnologyThe Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) is committed to providing defense-focusedgraduate and professional continuing education and research to sustain our air and space force'stechnical lead. Over the last four years AFIT students have been provided a hardware intensivesatellite design, build, and test course sequence. Over a twenty-week period, AFIT studentsdefine system requirements for their assigned mission, design a satellite that can achieve themission objectives, and build an engineering development unit (EDU) model of their design.Finally, the EDU model's performance is tested by the students in a thermal vacuum chamber,which simulates on orbit temperature and vacuum conditions, and on a vibration table, whichsimulates launch conditions. This paper evaluates the value of providing a challenging andexpensive engineering design/build sequence focused on real Air Force space missions for AirForce officers and civilians who will eventually lead future satellite development efforts.Additionally, this paper looks at how this hardware intensive graduate course can beimplemented at the undergraduate level.As an example, researchers at AFIT and the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) areevaluating the possibility of incorporating AFIT’s design/build sequence into USAFA’sundergraduate astronautical engineering curriculum. The proposed course would provide juniorsat USAFA with the opportunity to get more hands-on satellite design, build, and test experienceusing the hardware developed at AFIT as a springboard. Currently, USAFA does provide theirjuniors a hands-on experience during a two-day lab with a pre-fabricated satellite kit. Theproposed curriculum changes would allow students the opportunity to create, test, and learn fromtheir own satellite designs. This paper evaluates the groundwork for the development of thislabor intensive and challenging curriculum at the undergraduate level.Key words: Satellite Design, Hands-on Curriculum, Hardware Build and Test

Blackstun, M. P. L. (2012, June), Design, Build, and Test of Engineering Development Spacecraft Hardware in a Satellite Design Course at the Air Force Institute of Technology Paper presented at 2012 ASEE International Forum, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--17036

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