Microgravity Flight Experiment

I led a team of ten students at the University of Florida to submit an annual proposal to NASA’s Microgravity University for a flight experiment. Our team recognized a need for small-scale actuators to deploy solar panels on a CubeSat without introducing unstable vibrations. In support of this need, we developed a scaled over-center latch mechanism for rigid solar panel deployment. Our proposal was accepted in the fall of 2013, and our team was sponsored by NASA for a microgravity flight!

Rendering of the test bed

Rendering of the test bed.

After completing an extensive structural and safety analysis, we designed and manufactured a model CubeSat, prototype latch, rotating test bed, and protective cover. We flew the experiment on NASA’s “Weightless Wonder” in June of 2014.

Microgravity flight team

Flight team aboard the C-9 with our experiment before takeoff.

We experienced last-minute electrical failures that required us to quickly adjust our data-collection method. We recovered enough data to perform a simple vibrations analysis. The data and conclusions are presented in the final report.

I gained the following skills by working on this project:

  • Design concept generation
  • Project management
  • SolidWorks modeling
  • Structural analysis
Microgravity team photo

Members of the microgravity team at the University of Florida.

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