Phase D for Fly Your Satellite! third-cycle kicks off with online workshop

Cortez Deacetis



In brief

Over 100 students from three teams of the third Fly Your Satellite! cycle – AcubeSAT (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), SOURCE (University of Stuttgart, Germany), and UCAnFly (University of Cádiz, Spain) – have successfully completed their Phase D workshop. Held between 18 and 22 October 2021, the workshop was fully online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


Phase D is the verification and testing phase of Fly Your Satellite! It sees the participating university teams assemble, then integrate and verify the designs of their CubeSats. The aim of this workshop was to prepare the teams for the upcoming Phase D milestones, encouraging best practices, and transferring know-how from the ESA experts to the students.

Phase D workshop for the 3rd round of Fly Your Satelitte!

Given this workshop’s online nature, the week began with a quiz to encourage students from different teams to mingle and interact, enhancing important social aspects. Then, it was over to a series of ESA experts to give lectures about Phase D. The topics covered were:

  • Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), which is the interaction between components and units in the electromagnetic spectrum. The teams will need to verify compatibility in order to minimise the risk of cross-talk or interference between components of their CubeSat. 
  • Assembly, Integration and Functional Testing, which gave the students a comprehensive overview of how to assemble their CubeSat, integrate all the components, and verify their functionality, in order to ensure that their resulting CubeSat will be fully functional.
  • Vibration testing, which prepared the students for verification of the structural design of their CubeSat. Focus was given to the launch environment, which will put significant stress on the CubeSat as the launch vehicle accelerates it towards orbit.
  • Thermal testing, which covered verification of the thermal design of the CubeSat and how to perform thermal testing. 
Phase D workshop for the 3rd round of Fly Your Satelitte!
  • Product Assurance, which dealt with how the teams should handle any problems, risks, or non-conformances that might arise during the testing phase. Topics included documentation and Root Cause Analysis (RCA).
  • Ground station, which showed the teams how to set up and verify the ground station that will communicate with their CubeSat once in orbit. Different approaches to components were discussed, along with antennas and other ground station equipment, and how to verify the ground station using different methods such as end-to-end tests.
  • Operations, which went over how teams should operate their satellite once it is in orbit, with procedures for executing telecommands and how to ensure that the CubeSat remains operable throughout the mission.
  • Software, which set out to introduce verification and validation of software to the students, which practices to use, and how to ensure that the software on the CubeSat is developed with good standards, such as using traceability, reviews, and different strategies for testing. 
  • ESA’s CubeSat Support Facility (CSF) in Redu, Belgium, and how the teams can perform subsystem and environmental testing of their CubeSat and its components. The teams also received guidance on how they should prepare for testing campaigns and what kind of equipment is available to them at the CSF, such as a 20 kN electrodynamic shaker, and a thermal vacuum chamber.

During the workshop, each of the three teams gave a presentation about the current status of their CubeSat design and development. They were asked to openly discuss the challenges they had to overcome, encouraging a collaborative environment where members of other teams could offer their inputs and suggestions.

Phase D workshop for the 3rd round of Fly Your Satelitte!

The workshop students are now in a much stronger position to tackle the rest of Phase D. This will see them manufacturing and testing subsystems, assembling and testing their CubeSats, and finally undergoing a Flight Acceptance Review. Upon successful completion of Phase D, the CubeSats will be declared ready for launch!

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