The project described in this post is no longer in development, and this post is only being included for historical reasons. Please check the Homepage for links to current projects.

The second Bristol SEDS project is the development of a pico-satellite subsystem module for student experiments.

One of the major barriers facing any new or existing UKSEDS branch wanting to perform a space experiment, is the absence of technical knowledge and infrastructure. Of course as the branch develops over the years this technological knowledge will develop, and there is also the possibility of building a cubesat from commercially available parts. However, at the start of any project not knowing what to do can seem an unsurmountable barrier.

The idea behind our Pico3 project is to develop a cubic pico-satellite that can perform all of the satellite functions necessary for a student satellite and can also house, power, and control a small student experiment. Once developed, this system will allow UKSEDS to provide any branch with a low-cost complete satellite into which they can build their experiment. This will remove the barrier caused by a lack of technological knowledge and allow students to jump straight into exciting space research. When combined with the Bristol Rockoon, we also envisage UKSEDS being able to launch Pico3 experiments into the space environment without the need for external expertise. As the major functions of the Pico3 are identical to those required for a high altitude balloon payload, and for a rocket payload, it will also be possible for students to use the Pico3 to help them easily start up a variety of projects. A diagrammatic representation of the Pico3 can be seen in figure 1.

Figure 1 – Diagramatic representation of the Pico3.

As an extension to the Pico3 and Rockoon projects Bristol SEDS is also designing an upper stage that will be capable of launching a single Pico3 into a 200 km orbit, figure 2. This should give the Pico3 up to 2 weeks in the space environment, plenty of time for any student space experiment.

Figure 2 – Diagramatic representation of the Rockoon upper stage to launch a Pico3 into a 200 km orbit.