On 1 Sept. 2016, the SpaceX rocket Falcon 9 went up in a blaze of flames. This was a gruesome day that lost a lot of money for SpaceX, and the crash could have long term effects on many other entities such as the RAHS Satellite team.
During the 2017-18 school year, the RAHS Satellite team’s mission is to launch a 3D printed satellite into space, using a SpaceX rocket for their mission. Should this succeed, RAHS will be the first high school to send a satellite into space.
Satellite’s Team Program Manager Eli Mackley was not phased by the SpaceX accident.
“As our planned launch date is still a couple years out it is possible we will not be affected at all.” said Mackley.“If worse comes to worse we can launch with another company or even another nation.”
The Satellite Team has been planning to launch a satellite into space on a SpaceX rocket working with another company called Spaceflight Services.
“Spaceflight buys extra space on rocket launches,” said Mackley, “and sells out smaller chunks to small satellites.”
Currently the Sat team is testing a 3D printed plastic called PEEK. PEEK, the Polyether ether ketone, is a type of thermoplastic polymer used in engineering purposes.
“The purpose of the Phoenix Sat is to be a test bed for 3D printed plastics in space.” said Mackley
With more goals in mind, Satellite Team plans plans to finalize their components to monitor the satellite, finish the design, and write up a report for PEEK.
“Operational integration-ready SAURON board,[something that monitors the satellite], completed Phoenix Sat design [finished design], test results and go/no-go write up for PEEK chassis.” said Mackley
The SAURON board is very vital to the Satellite. SAURON is the board that will be able to monitoring chassis and reporting data.
“It will have strain sensors, temperature probes, cameras, and other things that will be able to monitor the 3D printed chassis.” said Mackley
The Satellite Team have to test the PEEK Chassis because of the affect space can have of the satellite. They must make sure the PEEK can withstand the effects of outer space, like temperature.
“We need to print a test model of the chassi out of PEEK, and take it too some companies in the local area that have testing apparatus, and make sure it works in space,” said Mackley. “So vibration, temperature, value, out gassing.”
The final goal is to have the whole design completed by the end of the year. Mackley and his team need to have everything complete , they need everything to be complete.
“Everything has to be ready and done on paper.” said Mackley
The Satellite Team meets two times in a week. There are leads and different teams working on different aspects for the sat team.
“Team leads take their teams through everything they want to get done that day,” said Mackley.“At the end of the meeting we will have a short 15 minute meeting for just myself and the team leads where we go over what was accomplished and plans for the next day.”
Mackley predicts that the team will accomplish their goals this year.
“The Satellite team is making very good progress this year.” said Mackley. “We are moving ahead with a clear schedule and are on track to complete it.”
Satellite Team set a huge goal for RAHS, as the school would be known as the first high school to send a Satellite into space.It is also a small step in pushing 3D printing plastics to space.