Illinois Team Takes Third in AIAA Senior Design Competition
An Illinois team has taken third place in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Senior Design Competition for the 2009-10 school year.
The team, Alecto Technical, designed a constellation of satellites that would monitor space conditions to be considered in designing for future spacecraft and space travel. The satellites were intended to monitor the magnetic field, electric field, particles in the magnetotail, and other harsh environmental conditions that a spacecraft would encounter in traveling to the second of five Lagrange points between the Earth and Sun. These points of equilibrium occur between the centripetal force a mass experiences when orbiting the Sun, and the gravitational forces of both the Earth and Sun. the second such point was of particular focus because of its location within the Earth’s magnetotail and the harsh environmental conditions found there.
Staying within a $200 million budget, the team was challenged with designing the measurements instrumentation and communications system for the satellites, as well as the timing for launches, considering assembly and testing of the satellites, and the optimum times for taking measurements. The trajectory needed to provide for each satellite to reach the second Lagrange point within the time of the peak solar activity in May 2013. The team was able to meet the challenges within budget (cost estimated at $185 million to $190 million).
The members of Alecto Technical were: Liz Chapman, team leader, risk and cost assessment; Drew Ahern, science instruments; Dan Fong, satellite subsystems; Stan Burns, attitude control and orbital; Krunal Patel, propulsion; and Joe Gonzalez, structures.