CubeSats have been very successful in reducing the barrier to access to space for universities and teams looking to conduct new experiments and use space to establish learning objectives.
However, building and launching a CubeSat still costs in the order of tens of thousands of dollars and may not be affordable for all stakeholders, especially those in developing countries.
So how may teams without the resources to build an entire CubeSat mission gain experience in the processes involved in realising a flight model?
The space community is trying to address this need by creating low cost simulators, educational kits, and open source software and hardware projects that can make space accessible and affordable to all.
In this article we have put together a short list of educational products, courses, services and software that might be beneficial to educators, amateur groups or other motivated individuals wishing to gain a greater understanding of small satellite missions.
Space education and training products on the market
In this section, you can find a range of educational solutions available around the world. These listings will be updated when new products are added to the global marketplace for space at satsearch – so please check back for more or sign up for our mailing list for all the updates.
Click on any of the links or images below to find out more about the systems. You can also submit a request for a quote, documentation or further information on each of the products listed, or send us a more general query to discuss your specific needs and we will use our global networks of suppliers to find a system to meet your specifications.
The ESAT by Theia Space
ESAT is an educational satellite designed to offer high-quality, hands-on training in space engineering at all levels. Potential users range from elementary schools, where STEM skills development is pursued, to university engineering courses, all the way up to engineering companies. The system aims to offer a realistic satellite simulation experience suitable for a wide variety of education activities.
The satellite educational portfolio of Kitsat
Kitsat is a Finnish company that manufactures an educational satellite based on the CubeSat form factor. The Kitsat is used by teams and universities all over the world to teach a wide range of engineering concepts.
The product includes a full suite of sensors and many of the sub-systems typically found in a satellite including the Electrical Power System (EPS), Attitude Determination System (ADS), On-Board Computer (OBC), radio module for telecommanding and telemetry, and payload instruments for autonomous observation.
The GEN 5 nanosatellite simulator is designed to teach the fundamentals of satellite systems engineering, in either the laboratory or the classroom. It features all of the major sub-systems of a spacecraft including power distribution, rechargeable batteries, a configurable solar array, ADCS, two actuator-reaction wheels, and magnetorquers.
It also has sun/yaw sensors, thermal, heat pipes, copper rods, heaters, and alternative materials for emissivity/absorptivity studies, along with data handling and GSE equipment ground station GUI. The kits also come with a user guide that can be used as the basis for course/curricula development or adapted as a lab manual.
The training portfolio of Spaceport
Spaceport is a European space educational platform that offers a range of specialised training courses on real satellite systems, following user-specific requirements. The courses offered are:
The Rise of the Machine – on emerging topics in the fields of autonomous machines, satellite systems and spacecraft architecture, and the future of robotics.
Mission: The Traveler – a wide-ranging overview of fundamental space science topics. Answering questions such as, how does the Sun work and how big is the universe?
The Final Frontier – a discussion of how space technology works and is developed. Explaining how satellites stay in orbit and what it takes to fly a spacecraft?
Mission: Phoenix – an educational course exploring how it may be possible to sustain life in space. Discussing long distance journeys, in situ resource utilization (ISRU) and more.
Mission: Atlas – an exploration of space and technology entrepreneurship and how to turn visions into reality.
Explorer’s Guide to Space – an course on exploring the solar system and the future of space exploration missions – to Mars, the Moon, asteroids and beyond.
Red Space – an educational course focussing on Mars. Exploring building and engineering of structures, satellites, robots and entire space systems on the red planet.
The CubeSat Simulator and CubeSat Simulator Lite by AMSAT
The CubeSat Simulator is a low cost satellite emulator that runs on solar panels and batteries, and transmits UHF radio telemetry. It has a 3D-printed frame and can be extended through the addition of other sensors and modules. This project is sponsored by the not-for-profit Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, AMSAT®.
For teams looking for an even simpler and more cost-effective solution the CubeSat Simulator Lite is available. In fact, those with access to a Raspberry Pi will have nothing to build and may just download the software and install an antenna on one of the GPIO pins in order to receive simulated telemetry on any FM radio.
A professional development curriculum developed by engineering professionals from the KSF Space Foundation. The course is designed for universities, startups and industry professionals. It includes details on how to build a mission (including policy regulations), develop a nanosat, and then operate and de-orbit the system once launched.
Fly Your Satellite! (FYS) is an educational programme whose main focus is the verification campaign of CubeSats built by university students – a phase with high learning value for the students. The programme was kicked off with the help of six CubeSat teams selected in June 2013 and offers students the opportunity to benefit from the transfer of technical competence and experience from ESA specialists. In addition, by teaching best practises for spacecraft design, development and verification, the programme aims at increasing CubeSats missions’ chances of success.
The FYS programme is structured in four phases, from the integration of the CubeSat Flight Model up to the operation of the satellite in space. During each phase CubeSats have to undergo expert reviews which need to be passed in order for the student teams to gain access to the following phase. In the current edition of the programme the four phases are all run under the supervision of space experts .
The educational portfolio of the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP)
The Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP) builds capacity in Asia Pacific countries in space science and technology, and their applications. It offers a variety of post graduate courses, that are recognised by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), and also conducts various shorter courses on different themes such as remote sensing and GIS, small satellite missions, and navigation and satellite positioning systems based on user requests. An overview of the courses is provided below:
- Space & Atmospheric Science
- Small Satellite Missions
- Satellite Meteorology & Global Climate
- Satellite Communications
- Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System
- Global Navigation Satellite Systems
The HEPTA-Sat by UNISEC-Global
HEPTA-Sat (Hands-on Education Program for Technical Advancement) is a hands-on study of small satellite design and engineering over several days of intensive practical lessons. The HEPTA-Sat hands-on course focuses on establishing the knowledge of systems engineering by going through the entire process of system integration.
The course is designed to teach students how the system is broken down into different sub-systems, how to integrate the sub-systems into a fully functioning craft, and how to test/debug it once it has been integrated. The program is supported by an instructor community and is open to interested parties from any educational or professional background.
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