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IAC-20-E2.4.1 CapSat-1: The Demonstration of a Novel Capacitor-Based CubeSat Electrical Power System in a 1U CubeSat

Samer A. Elhoushy, Kevin L. Simmons

The CapSat-1’s proposal was submitted to NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) in November of 2018 on behalf of an extracurricular program known as The Wolverine CubeSat Development Team (WCDT), located within the Weiss School – a K-8th gifted program in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida .

The WCDT had launched a CubeSat prior, known as the WeissSat-1 – and remains as the only middle school program nationwide to have successfully launched a CubeSat with NASA’s CSLI [1]. The CapSat-1 was submitted in accompaniment with other CubeSat proposals, and these students from the team have presented at NASA headquarters, multiple International Astronautical Congresses, the International SmallSat Conference, and many others local, state, and nationwide3.

The Weiss School was specifically selected to present in these conferences for its aerospace engineering experience and novelty of allowing younger adolescent students to develop their own satellite missions.

The CapSat-1 is a technological demonstration, selected on March 14th, 2019 through NASA’s tenth annual CSLI round [2]. It is designed to validate a capacitor-based electrical power system (EPS) in a 1U CubeSat.

Currently, all CubeSats use lithium-ion polymer (LiPo) batteries as their primary source of power. Capacitors have been proven to be safer, more cost/volume-efficient, and more temperature-durable than LiPo batteries.

This mission would validate their power/voltage efficiency and compare that to the status quo of the EPS in CubeSats today.

The CapSat-1 will be primarily utilizing solar power from its panels, with a secondary power supply of a LiPo battery in the case of the capacitors potentially failing.

The mission itself has a secondary mission of technological demonstration. It would be measuring the charge-discharge cycle of a capacitor as a function of time with regards to radiation and heat impacts, with a direct comparison of a LiPo battery (the control).

Capacitors have already been proven through terrestrial research to have much greater durability, safety, and longevity than the LiPo battery, and this project would prove one aspect of these batteries that has not been established: their voltage and power consumption efficiency in the radiating/heat-inducing conditions of the space environment compared to the standard LiPo battery.

This CubeSat will launch as a 1U, and its launch date is expected within mid-to-late 2021. The CapSat- 1 was classified by NASA with a secondary mission of technological demonstration, and a primary mission of education – by giving younger engineers the opportunity for hands-on experiential learning with how to develop, build, test, and fly a satellite.

Read Full Presentation: Samer IAC2020 Final

IAC-20-E1.5.6 Enhancing the STEM Pipeline - Using Public Policy to Promote Space Industry Access to a Highly Skilled Workforce

Space Industry Access to a Highly Skilled Workforce

Paul Kiesling, Maya Mohanty, Shawna L. Christenson, Kevin L. Simmons

Since the late 1950’s the industries supporting the exploration and utilization of space have become well known. Humans have walked on the moon, distant worlds have been explored by orbiting spacecraft and rovers, and above Earth satellites connect people globally as never before.

Today as the US and the world are looking with renewed interest to explore, colonize, and eventually capitalize space, the educational pipeline must be reinforced in order to meet the ever-growing demand.

In the United States, young students may have a spark of interest to pursue a career in aerospace; however, that interest often fades due to the lack of hands-on STEM education exposure as they enter high school. Additionally, the increased exposure to other subjects encourages students with highly prized STEM skills to pursue careers in other fields.

Through the Wolverine CubeSat Development Team (WCDT), students have a strong STEM education program and a hands-on, real-world exposure to aerospace science. As part of their contribution to the growth of the space industry, WCDT students work towards preparing themselves for STEM careers.

The WCDT began in August of 2015 as an after-school club and activity with the ultimate aim of deploying a CubeSat into space within three years.

In December of 2018, the WCDT successfully launched WeissSat-1, a 1U CubeSat selected in the 24th round of NASA’s ELaNa Program and the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI).

WeissSat-1 made history as the first CubeSat to be built, tested, and launched by middle school students. Students of the WCDT are also active members of the Aerospace Public Policy Institute (APPI) where they work to expand hands-on STEM education with a focus on aerospace policy in the United States.

In the U.S. Congress, House Resolution 85 (H.Con.Res.85), or Wolverine CubeSats in Education, was originally developed by the students in conjunction with Congressman Brian Mast. It was introduced with the aim to increase public awareness of the educational benefits of the CSLI and to prioritize its funding in the annual budget.

This initiative is currently in progress and is in the process of gaining bipartisan support from states who have experience with CubeSats in educational settings. This legislation is an extension of H. Con. Res 109, the “WeissSat-1 Resolution,” introduced in 2018.

In addition to advocating for national aerospace policy, students continue to work at the state level to increase the available funding for experiential Title 1 teacher STEM training in Florida.

Through this integrated partnership with Title 1 public schools, and through attending legislative blitzes, students raise awareness and propose solutions for the aforementioned weakening STEM pipeline with the goal of producing a more inspired and supported workforce for the future of the aerospace industry, particularly in these students’ home state.

Read Full Presentation: Paul IAC2020 Final

IAC-20-E1.2.13 Lunar Dust Mitigation on Spacecraft in Low Gravity Freefall Environment

Lunar Dust Mitigation on Spacecraft in Low Gravity Freefall Environment

Caeden T. Dooner, Shawna L. Christenson, Kevin L. Simmons

The Wolverine CubeSat Development Team (WCDT) program remains the only middle school in the United States to develop, build, test, and launch a cube-sized nanosatellite (also known as a CubeSat).

Aside from satellites, the WCDT program is also focused on future lunar exploration and is developing the AMARIS lunar rover based on CubeSat technology.

The goal of the AMARIS mission is to evaluate techniques for reducing the negative impacts of dust accumulation on rover solar panels and frames. Lunar dust is believed to have toxic properties that can affect people and machines.

This dust adhesion problem was widely reported during the Apollo era missions and still exists today. The experiment from which this paper is based investigates how electric and magnetic fields may be used to mitigate this problem.

A vacuum dust-box was designed, composed of 5 mm thick Lexan sheets in which flight-grade photovoltaic panels and anodized aluminum chassis components were subjected to regolith simulant. The goal is to determine if there is a feasible solution to mitigate the dust buildup that occurs in space.

The knowledge gained from this experiment will be used in designing a team lunar rover in the near future, which will utilize CubeSat technology. Overall, this proposal uses electromagnetic and vacuum theories as a framework and seeks to further advance student understanding of the lunar environment as well as prepare the future aerospace workforce through Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and the real-world application of Physics.

Read Full Presentation: Caeden IAC 2020.08.09

IAC-20-E1.2.1 BLUE-SKY Learning: The Wolverine CubeSat Development Team (2015-2020)

Kevin L. Simmons, Shawna L. Christenson, Ava D. Patterson, Ella D. Shuter, Finley W. Strausse

The Wolverine CubeSat Development Team (WCDT) employs a ’BLUE-SKY Learning’ philosophy. Young students have the potential and resources to accomplish remarkable technical feats – even launching their own spacecraft.

The WCDT, initially located at the Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida remains the only middle school (grades 6th-8th) program nationwide to have successfully launched a CubeSat mission with NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI).

Following the launch in 2018 of their first CubeSat, the WeissSat-1, they were selected for a second satellite, the CapSat-1 by NASA in 2019. It is expected to launch in 2021.

The WCDT leverages the excitement of young people towards aerospace and the accessibility of CubeSats to engage the new generation STEM workforce. While in the past only nations could build and deploy spacecraft, today CubeSats, in conjunction with NASA’s CSLI, represent a pathway for a middle and high schools to put their student-built satellites into space.

The uniqueness of the aerospace experience is ideally suited for gifted students and teachers. The small nanosatellite form factor is approximately 10 cubic centimeters in volume and originally designed to train engineering students through the life cycle of a satellite (design, assembly, testing, and flight) while in college.

With the emergence of lower cost access to space, the miniaturization of electronics, and the standardization of the form factor, CubeSats represent a tremendous learning tool to incorporate both hard and soft skills. Students are immersed in the convergent and real-world themes of systems engineering, project management, and authentic research, all while applying maximum creativity and critical thinking to earn or win flight opportunities to space.

Students who develop CubeSats are required to both specialize individually and collaboratively to integrate a spacecraft payload and bus, successfully test the vehicle to stringent certification criteria, and are encouraged to interact with numerous government agencies such as Congress and NASA.

We live at the precise time in humankind’s history that large numbers of people now have access to low cost technology, infinite information, and access to capital resources sufficient to accomplish extraordinary, or even ‘BLUE-SKY’ goals.

The WCDT program has shown that if properly equipped educators may guide and inspire their young students, even as young as 10-12 year olds, to develop their own authentic aerospace program.

Read Full Presentation: Simmons IAC2020 Final

IAC-20-E1.1.1 Primarily Igniting The Passion: STEM In Early Education

Shawna L. Christenson, Kevin L. Simmons, Argyrios D. Vaitsos

Young children have an innate interest in science. They behold the world around them, are natural questioners, and are not content to simply observe the world around them; they must utilize all their senses to make sense of what they perceive.

Primary educators can and must capitalize on this interest by immersing students directly into handson applications, but also into the collaborative and communicative aspects that make up the 21st century skillset, particularly if the nation is to positively impact underrepresented groups to enter the STEM fields.

This paper uses Social Cognitive Career Theory as an approach and offers project-based STEM activities with a focus on aerospace to excite students aged 11 and younger.

Creating a science identity early on, particularly for students of color, lower socio-economic status, and female gender, is imperative in order to increase STEM career participation.

Additionally, there is a focus on equipping teachers with relevant professional development and ideas to take back to primary classrooms.

The authors’ school has an active and successful aerospace program in the form of the Wolverine and Wolfpack CubeSat Development Teams. Teammates in the middle school level have been selected not once but twice by NASA for their CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI).

One satellite, the WeissSat-1 is currently on orbit, while the second, the CapSat-1 is in the planning stages. Because of the work of older students, younger students (grade K-5) are exposed to the real work of space.

While satellite teams may appear out of reach for schoolaged children, there are many other ways to build a science identity and to get students inspired now to be the STEM workers of the future.

Engagement suggestions will break down into both student and teacher centered activities. Teachers should take part in learning along with their students by becoming active in professional organizations and continuing professional development (PD).

Read Full Presentation: Christenson IAC2020 Final

IAC-20 E1.VP.12. OUTLAST-1: International Collaboration and Disruptive Education via PocketQubes

Beau T. Kimler, Maya Mohanty, Kevin L. Simmons

The proposed nanosatellite, The Outlast-1, is a 5 cm by 5 cm by 15 cm PocketQube that will utilize watchdog timers and redundancy methods to prevent bitflips in COTS hardware.

PocketQubes are a subdivision of SmallSats that have been recently developed. The most common SmallSat is a CubeSat, a 10cm^3 platform that is used for launching missions to space.

CubeSats are used in the educational setting because of their affordable price. CubeSats have been commonly used to teach students about designing, building, and testing.

The CubeSat has been recognized as a great tool for students and will be used for years to come.

One alternative to the CubeSat is a PocketQube, which is even smaller and comes at a lower price point. They are a lesser known platform for students because of how recently they were developed. PocketQubes are also cost effective but smaller than CubeSats.

They are also developed in Scotland which is important to the Outlast-1 mission. The Outlast-1 aims to stay in space for a total of 3-4 years using hardware and electronics.

Data is something that all satellites send back to Earth so it can be analyzed. That data can get corrupted due to high energy radiation such as UV or X-ray hitting the main processor and changing the bits of data such as a 1 to a 0 and vice versa.

The Outlast-1 aims to prove and validate watchdog timers and redundancy as a way to protect data in space. The Outlast-1 will bring students of all different nations together satellites work and improve their use of technologies [1].

Through designing, building, and testing, students gain experience and knowledge that they can use in the SmallSat industry. The Outlast-1 will help future space missions and help the future of space.

Read Full Presentation: Beau IAC Final 2020v2

IAC-20-E3.4.3 Middle Eastern Contributions to Astronomy

William E. Mayville Jr., Kevin L. Simmons

Since the dawn of humanity, prior generations looked towards the blue of the sky and the black of the unknown that surpassed it. Humans have been observing, studying, and recording the cosmos for thousands of years.

Today, space is dominated by states such as the U.S., China, and Russia. However, to truly understand the history of how humans looked upon the cosmos, one must go back thousands of years to the great Bronze Age civilizations of the Middle Eastern regions.

It was in these civilizations where great advances in astronomy were first made. That is where it all began.

Many advanced Bronze Age civilizations made advancements in astronomy that were far ahead of their time. The Sumerians frequently associated planets as well as the cosmos with deities. They put down the groundwork for modern mathematics such as the 360 degree circle and the 60 minute hour.

Babylonian society continued this. During the reign of Nabonassar, detailed and accurate diaries and records were kept in relation to the cosmos. Such records still exist today and are on display around the world.

During the Seleucid Empire, astronomers used records to predict planetary movement and phenomena. Eventually, Babylonian astronomers developed mathematical models to directly predict such events.

This basic ground work formed the foundation for future global astronomy. In the Middle Ages, the Middle East, under Islam, compiled large sums of knowledge in great libraries.

Using knowledge of astronomy, many observatories were constructed. Star catalogues that helped to calculate the positions of the Sun, Earth, and the moon were created at such observatories.

Middle Eastern astronomers during these times made detailed notes on constellations in addition to calculating the tilt of the Earth’s axis and establishing a calendar that was very close to the Gregorian calendar in accuracy.

Variants of tools such as the astrolabe were also created in the Middle East during this period. The Middle East continued to play a major role in astronomy in the Middle Ages.

While the current superpowers in space and on Earth, the U.S., Russia, and China have made significant gains, the Middle East is ramping up their own space efforts.

UAE astronauts recently made their first appearance on the ISS. The Middle East had and continues to play a profound role in aerospace and astronomy.

Read Full Presentation: William IAC2020 Final


Kevin Simmons, Theodore Ouyang, Paul Kiesling, Beau Kimler, Andrew Zhang, Anthony Zhang

“FlipSat-1” is a 2U CubeSat that will be investigating the volatility of single event upsets in printed circuit boards that utilize various radiation protection methods.

“FlipSat-1”, colloquially and henceforth mentioned as FlipSat, is both a proof-of-concept of watchdog timers in cheap low earth orbit satellites and optimization of levels of radiation hardening.

FlipSat is a crucial step in space exploration by providing insight on the electrical phenomena of single event upsets and protection methods. The information that FlipSat harvests will enable space programs, corporations, schools, and individuals to prevent data corruption on their satellites.

Even with the ever decreasing costs of launching satellites, it is still an encumbrance for entities to fund the cost to launch heavy radiation hardening or budget enough power to supply watchdog timers. Therefore, the FlipSat-1.

Read Full Presentation: x 3 FlipSat-1 IAC Paper Final

TEDx 2019 Presentation - Blue Sky Learning: Disruptive Education

Kevin Simmons

View Full Presentation: 2019.05.03 TEDx FINAL

NASA-HQ-Briefing - The Wolverine CubeSat Development Team Update and Request for Lunar Rover Support

Kevin Simmons, Shawna Christenson, Michelle Brunetti, Samer Elhoushy, Alexa Ernce, Logan Eskildsen, Ryan Grizzard, William Mayville, Maya Mohanty, Hayden Neer, Theodore Ouyang

View Full Presentation: 2019.05.15 NASA HQ Briefing FINAL-FINAL