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Eyassat: Transforming The Way Students Experience Space Systems Engineering

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Innovative Teaching in Engineering/Technology I

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.602.1 - 9.602.15

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Paper Authors

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Obadiah Ritchey

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John Clark

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Jim White

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Tim White

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David Barnhart

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Jerry Sellers

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2004-1880

EyasSAT: Transforming the Way Students Experience Space Systems Engineering

David J. Barnhart, Obadiah NG Ritchey, Jerry J. Sellers, James J. White, Timothy L. White, John B. Clark

US Air Force Academy/Colorado Satellite Services/Northern NEF


The Department of Astronautics at the United States Air Force Academy has transformed the way spacecraft systems engineering is taught, and more importantly, the way it is experienced by students. This new development is called EyasSAT™—a miniaturized, fully functional satellite model that is “flown” in the classroom.

EyasSAT literally means “baby FalconSAT,” where FalconSAT is the name of the flagship satellite program at USAFA. Students work as a team their senior year to design, build, launch, and/or operate a real satellite performing Department of Defense science. To prepare for this interdisciplinary experience, students take the prerequisite course titled “Spacecraft Systems Engineering.” Students in this course work in small teams to build up an EyasSAT system, subsystem by subsystem, after the design issues are covered in the classroom.

The premise is simple: EyasSAT is composed of intelligent, stand-alone hardware modules built with commercial components that are integrated through a flexible data and power bus. Instead of designing and building each subsystem in detail, EyasSAT allows students the opportunity to perform acceptance and verification testing on the hardware as they learn about each subsystem in the classroom. This matches the spirit of the course, which is to broadly cover all spacecraft system and subsystem level issues and not to cover one subsystem in great detail. After each subsystem is tested and characterized in the lab, it is stacked up in an integrated fashion, ultimately producing a picosatellite-sized fully operational system by the end of the semester. A wireless link to a computer provides the command and telemetry interface. EyasSAT also can be easily expanded through additional payload or subsystem modules to support teaching or commercial objectives.

This paper outlines the system concept and design, as well as assembly, integration and testing basics. System characterization processes and data are likewise presented.

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Ritchey, O., & Clark, J., & White, J., & White, T., & Barnhart, D., & Sellers, J. (2004, June), Eyassat: Transforming The Way Students Experience Space Systems Engineering Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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