ISD Students Play Key Role in U-M Bicentennial Space Mission

DSM-BARC Team members working in the LNF labs to develop the payload for the CubeSat.

In conjunction with the University of Michigan’s 200th anniversary, the U-M Multidisciplinary Design project team is developing a space time capsule in the form of a CubeSat, a miniaturized satellite for space research. The mission is named Demonstration of Systems for Michigan Bicentennial Archive, abbreviated as DSM-BARC. The CubeSat serves as a platform to the increase the technology readiness level of the Electrical Power System and Communications System in Earth’s Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

The CubeSat will be the first of its kind to orbit GTO, which is a highly elliptical orbit ranging from 185–36,000 kilometers. So far, CubeSats have been tested in low Earth orbits and are typically not designed to survive in higher orbits. DSM-BARC will weigh a maximum of 2 kilograms and is built to have 2 millimeter thick walls on six sides of its surface to provide radiation shielding, as it will pass the Van Allen radiation belts twice per orbit. DSM-BARC is set to launch in mid-2018 through a free launch opportunity with United Launch Alliance (ULA).

The Communications & Data Handling Board for the DSM-BARC CubeSat, which will enable the communications of the satellite from Earth and vice-versa.

High-resolution photos of campus and student life along with 1,000 interviews collected from U-M students, faculty, staff, and alumni will be etched onto silicon wafers using Electron Beam Lithography at the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility (LNF). The CubeSat will also carry synthetic DNA samples as an experiment to determine its viability as a long-term storage method for information. The experiment aims to investigate the effects of space radiation on synthetic DNA that is encoded with the University of Michigan’s mission statement and test its viability as a long-term storage method.

Weiyau Tee fastens an electronic board onto a 3D printed structure to ensure that the structure and components match in tolerance and fit.

As the Systems Engineer of the DSM-BARC, ISD Manufacturing student Weiyau Tee is responsible for keeping track of system and functional requirements to ensure that they are up to date with the payloads and specifications of the mission. Weiyau will also collaborate with the Structures, Electrical Power Systems and Command & Data Handling teams to verify the requirements set.

Elio Morillo, who recently graduated from ISD’s Systems Engineering + Design program was the Structures Lead for the project and designed early iterations of the CubeSat. He also played a crucial role in team administration and delegation of tasks among team members based on mission constraints.

The team looks forward to presenting their spacecraft, along with its payload, at the University of Michigan Bicentennial Fall Festival on October 27th.