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Spacecraft Systems Engineering The Initiation Of A Multidisciplinary Design Project At The University Of North Dakota

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.889.1 - 6.889.15



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Paper Authors

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Richard Schultz

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Darryl Sale

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Chang-Hee Won

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William Semke

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Arnold Johnson

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

Session 3232

Spacecraft Systems Engineering – The Initiation of a Multidisciplinary Design Project at the University of North Dakota

Chang-Hee Won, Darryl Sale, Richard R. Schultz, Arnold F. Johnson, and William H. Semke University of North Dakota


During this past year, several departments at the University of North Dakota have been focusing on the design of inexpensive spacecraft for atmospheric studies and remote sensing. This multidisciplinary design project emphasizes the systems engineering approach, in which extensive documentation is created prior to any construction or testing. Fourteen undergraduate and three graduate students designed and tested the second build of a spacecraft, known as Scorpio II, to be launched using a zero-pressure balloon. This project will send a 10-kg spacecraft to an elevation of approximately 25-km to collect and transmit real-time sensor and digital image data from the stratosphere. The telecommunications subsystem is responsible for collecting sensor readings, acquiring images from a digital camera, and packetizing this data so that it can be transmitted to a ground station via a radio-frequency (RF) link. The RF link will be implemented using a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) transceiver. Furthermore, the telecommunications subsystem will be able to receive uplink telecommands for controlling image acquisition, varying the sampling frequency of individual sensors, and releasing the payload from the balloon. The spacecraft – attached to a parachute – will be tracked with global positioning system (GPS) data so that it may be safely recovered after its descent. The large-scale scope of this project, coupled with the group size, has led to many new experiences for the students, including an appreciation for true teamwork and the positive and negative aspects of group dynamics. The efficacy of applying this systems engineering approach to a variety of large-scale student projects, such as spacecraft or solar-powered vehicle design, will be discussed.

I. Introduction

Undoubtedly, there exists a large gap between the engineering skills that are required by industry and the engineering skills that are taught in our universities. One fundamental skill that is commonly used in industry but almost always neglected in academia is the systems engineering approach to design. The University of North Dakota is taking the initiative to teach systems engineering at the

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Schultz, R., & Sale, D., & Won, C., & Semke, W., & Johnson, A. (2001, June), Spacecraft Systems Engineering The Initiation Of A Multidisciplinary Design Project At The University Of North Dakota Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9792

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