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SFU satellite team shoots for the stars

New club aims to compete in Canadian competition

The SFU satellite club at the pre-launch of their weather balloon.
The SFU satellite club at the pre-launch of their weather balloon.

A group of SFU students are preparing to launch their aspirations and dreams into outer space for an ongoing competition.

The challenge in question is the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge, a nationwide competition for building a cube satellite. “The SFU Satellite Design Club was formed in January 2016 with the main goal of competing [. . .] and building a cube satellite,” Jordan Lui, the club’s president, told The Peak.

“The club is a 50-member club of SFU undergraduate, graduate, and alumni who are passionate for space technologies,” added Lui. “Many of our team members have passions to go into the space industry after graduation, so they realize that this challenge is a great stepping-stone to their future career aspirations.”

“Many of our team members have passions to go into the space industry after graduation.”

Cube satellites as extremely little satellites that are favoured by small companies, countries, and student teams, said Liu “Because a cube satellite has all of the systems that a regular satellite will have [communication, power, structure, propulsion, computing, sensing], it’s a great way to test new cutting-edge technologies on a significantly cheaper spacecraft that can also be built much more quickly than conventional satellites.”

On August 23 in Clinton, BC, the club launched a weather balloon to test systems for their planned final satellite. While the launch was successful, the team began to run into issues retrieving location data, only receiving irregular updates from the balloon.

“After a couple promising hints to the craft’s latest location, the team went on two hikes in the Nicola Valley area to attempt recovery of the craft,” said Lui. The group could not locate the craft, but gained valuable experience for future projects.

The club remains excited for the upcoming challenge. It will provide them with the chance to experience working within an aerospace organization, as well as opportunities to work with space industry experts, Lui said.

Lui emphasized that club isn’t just about science. “As a spacecraft design organization, we have people working on all aspects of running a mini space company,” he noted. “While there is obviously a large science and engineering component to our operations, the business, finance, and media aspect of our work is just as important to our success in this challenge.”

Lui noted the club is always looking for new members of all skill levels and “from all backgrounds.” Interested individuals can contact the club via email or visit their Facebook group.

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