Tuesday, 25 October 2005

The FedSat Team

Well, it's been almost 3 years since FedSat was launched. It's nearing the end of its design life, and has performed admirably (even if I do say so myself). If decommissioned, it will be because the money to keep monitoring it has run out, not because it has failed.

Here's who the FedSat team consisted of, way back in 2001

Mirek Vesely
Occupation: systems engineer
Work area: FedSat bus design
I'm the project manager for FedSat. It's been a trial transitioning from the UK to Australia, but the benefits mean that Australia has a good set of skills for future turnkey projects.

Mike Petkovic
Occupation: engineer
Work area: AIT manager
I am responsible for the assembly, integration and testing of the spacecraft and systems. But I'm also looking at taking on the mechanical structural testing and thermal testing associated with the harness, and supervising the [radio] systems.

Carl Todd
Occupation: engineer
Work areas: power & software
I am coordinating the power subsystems, the onboard software, and the flight computer. It's all going very well. Most people have already gone through their learning curves, and now we're in a strong position.

Roger Wilson
Occupation: software engineer
Work area: operations and control centre
The operator console is what users of the ground station use to visually perform commands to send to the satellite. At this stage, it requires a bit of work. The software's been developed in an ad hoc manner, but eventually it will do the job.

Damon Ward
Occupation: electronic engineer
Work area: power conditioning system
The power conditioning system grabs power from the solar cells or the batteries and provides it to all different power systems on the satellite. At this stage we are testing the engineering model, not the one that's going to fly. I found a couple of problems but it's looking quite promising. Because I'm now in Canberra I get to hear what's going on and it's more exciting."

Kirill Kousoubov
Occupation: undergraduate student, computer systems engineering
Work area: operations and control centre
I am doing the software enabling the ground station commands to reach the satellite. We develop module by module. I have finished some of them and now it's time for testing them and integrating them. That will take a while. It'll be a major milestone.

Robert Purvinskis
Occupation: PhD student, comms engineering
Work area: comms system
I work on the main communications link between the ground control station, the OCC, and the satellite itself. So all the onboard housekeeping data from the satellite will downlink via our microwave link to the ground station in Adelaide. I'll be involved with the transmitter receiving systems that we received, checking them and testing them before they're installed on the satellite. We are quite happy with the way the system is going.

Alan Zoe Brain
Occupation: software engineer
Work area: data handling system
I am leading the programming on the computer that's going to fly on the satellite. The interesting thing is it's got to be space qualified, which means able to tolerate a lot of environmental hazards that normal chips don't have to. Very few computers could tolerate being in a microwave oven and zapped for ten minutes. Similarly, for a lot of chips, the vacuum would boil away all the liquids inside them, and the chip would die quite dramatically. Our's mustn't do that, it must survive for years. We also have to store everything in memory three times for redundancy in orbit. So we need some fairly paranoid programming. I'm just really glad that I'm on this project here in Australia which makes use of my skills. It's great and wonderful and fun and they're even paying me to do it.

Ross Frazer
Occupation: software engineer
Work area: flight software
Basically I'm working on the flight software, which is the actual software on board the satellite. I'm sort of getting into it. I am basically straight out of university, and I've done a little bit of stuff like operating systems before. I'm dealing with the hardware and things like that.

Ben Boyle
Occupation: undergraduate student, engineering
Work area: attitude control centre
I have been working on the ACC since December. I have worked in system design and implementation since then. It's going fantastic. We have a lot of fun. The ACC is really escalating at the moment. It's a top experience. Finishing university with a year's work experience and a very worthy project at the end makes me quite happy.

Sven Jahke
Occupation: engineer
Work area: GPS payload
This is my first day, so I have to find out what's going on first. I am interested in doing software, something software based. I know the GPS side best, since that's what I've been doing for the last 6 months.

Troy Spencer
Occupation: undergraduate student, engineering
Work area: structural mechanics
I'll be helping Mike with the payloads, like the GPS payload; when it comes in we are going to assemble it and put it in the satellite. I had to test the electronic equipment coming in, like breakup boxes, and make sure they work properly and stuff like that. I had to do a bit of rewiring for the power conditioning subsystem. It's been a bit intense, pretty full-on. I reckon this is pretty good, you don't get to work on a satellite every day.

Andrew Bish
Occupation: engineer
Work area: attitude control system
This attitude control system board has a noise problem, which is difficult to remove in a flight-ready board, so we're looking to replace it with a new one from Dynacon in Canada. The whole satellite has a power problem and if we get another board we can lower the power consumption by a few watts, which is quite significant. Incorporating the Dynacon software into our system would cost as much as buying the new board. Apart from that, it's going all right.

Jimmy Nyman
Occupation: undergraduate student, space engineering
Work area: star camera
I am working on the star camera, writing the communication program so we can test it when we get it. Later on, I'll try to calibrate the star camera and test it in all sorts of ways for working in space. I've never done anything like this before, and it's been a good learning experience.

Ahmad Bahrami
Occupation: mechanical design engineer
Work area: mechanical design
I am doing the mechanical design on FedSat. If they want to change some specification on one part, I can do that for them. I can fix problems and make changes in the big design. There are many factors to consider. I am very excited that I am part of this project. It is very good because I can get lots of experience out of it. And it is a good experience for Australia.

James Moody
Occupation: systems engineer
Work area: OCC software
I'm one of the members of the system team. I was lucky enough to be in it when we first started working with SIL. At the moment we're lucky that it's becoming an Australian project. We've got a great mix of experienced engineers and university students.

But the team of experienced engineers and students was dissolved years ago. So ends Australia's second space programme - the first was 30 years ago.

Oh well, we've created a Space Programme from a standing start twice now. We can do it again. Maybe 3rd time lucky - but hopefully not in 30 years, sometime sooner.

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