New Ground Station! And other updates.

There has been exciting progress made since our last update (and how time flies!). We have completed a spacecraft flatsat earlier this year, demonstrating all spacecraft functionality in the clean room here on campus. We have also built a new ground station to communicate with our spacecraft. Additionally, we have made our submission for the fourth and final Ground Tournament that will determine our eligibility for the EM-1 launch! Finally, we have completed our Phase II safety review and are working on closing out action items given to us by the safety review panel.

New Ground Station

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Cislunar Explorers new ground station. Cornell’s clock tower can be seen in the lower right.

We have completed our upgraded ground station, which is on the top of Rhodes Hall, one of the highest points on campus. With this ground station, we can maintain a comfortable link margin with our spacecraft even at its farthest distance–over 1.2 million kilometers from Earth! The new ground station will support several flight projects in between now and the EM-1 launch that will hopefully fly Cislunar Explorers. This will give us ample opportunity to practice tracking and communicating with spacecraft in advance of our mission. Our old ground station remains on top of Barton Hall for use as a backup; its gain is sufficient to maintain communications with the spacecraft at the lunar distance where most of the mission will take place.

Ground Tournament 4

We have submitted our documentation for Ground Tournament 4, which is the final phase of the ground segment of the CubeQuest challenge. As one of five teams left in the competition, we are competing for three open launch spots on EM-1. The results will be announced the week of June 8th at NASA AMES.

Phase II Safety Review

We have also submitted our data package and completed our Phase II Safety Review presentation. While the Ground Tournaments determine which missions are chosen for launch opportunities, eligible teams must also pass a series of safety reviews from Phase 0 through Phase III, in order to be cleared to actually fly. We completed Phase 0 in 2015 and Phase I in 2016, closing all action items from both. The Phase II review has been conducted, and we are expecting to close related action items early this summer. At that point, if we are selected from GT4, we will only need to complete the final, Phase III review to launch!