​NTU Students To Train With Real Satellites In Space

Having completed their missions, NTU’s satellites will now be used to train manpower for Singapore’s budding satellite industry.

AsianScientist (Apr. 30, 2015) – Engineering undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) who join its satellite program will have the opportunity to operate one of its three satellites in outer space.

The three satellites, which have been in space for a combined seven years and have completed their mission, are now being used to train the next generation of satellite engineers. NTU is the first university in Singapore to have an undergraduate satellite program.

The three NTU satellites are the X-SAT, Singapore’s first locally built satellite in collaboration with DSO National Laboratories, the student-built 4.28 kg nanosatellite VELOX-I and the pico-sized 1.3 kg VELOX PII.

Director of NTU’s Satellite Research Center, Associate Professor Low Kay Soon, says the center has been training satellite engineers and undergraduates in ground control operations using the X-SAT and its two younger siblings over the past year.

“Our first generation of satellite engineers had practiced the ground operations on simulation software before we launched X-SAT in 2011,” Low said. “While the simulations are robust and have scenarios based on real challenges, nothing beats the actual experience of controlling a real satellite in space, which encounters situational challenges in real time.”

He also notes some of the challenges of controlling a satellite that is in space, especially when it flies at a speed of 7.5 kilometers per second at 800 kilometers above the Earth, with only a ten minute window for each fly pass. He notes that having three mission-complete satellites in space gives the opportunity for students and new research staff to practice real ground control operations.

Training manpower for Singapore’s budding satellite industry will be the main purpose for NTU’s X-SAT from now on as it has already completed its mission. The fridge-sized 106 kg X-SAT micro-satellite has taken over 9,000 photos world-wide in the past four years, from the haze in Indonesia’s Riau province, to environmental conditions of large urban cities.

It had completed various important experiments in space, including the testing of the robustness of its Global Positioning System, an NTU-designed reconfigurable Parallel Processing Unit which can be reconfigured to do various tasks and the in-orbit updating of the satellite’s software and control algorithms.

The students’ hands-on training helps in the preparation for the ground operation of two new NTU satellites that will be ready later this year. The VELOX-CI, a fridge-sized 135 kg satellite, will be used for tropical climate monitoring and the smaller 12 kg VELOX-II will test experimental satellite-based communication.

VELOX-II’s breakthrough technology will enable it to send data back to the NTU ground station from anywhere even if the satellite is not flying above Singapore, as is currently the case.

To date, NTU has four satellites in space, the X-SAT, VELOX-I, VELOX-PII and VELOX-PIII, a small smart phone-sized satellite that piggybacked on the bigger VELOX-I.


Source: Nanyang Technological University.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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