The mission statement reflects the spirit of the program, pointing out in particular the educational purpose of the project, as well as the technological research in the direction of reducing the cost to access space. The mission statement for the [email protected] program sounds as follows:
EDUCATE AEROSPACE-ENGINEERING STUDENTS ON COMPLEX SYSTEMS DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT,
TEAM WORK, AND STANDARDS IMPLEMENTATION.
ACHIEVE INSIGHT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES FOR
LOW-COST ACCESS TO SPACE.
The [email protected] program is first of all an educational project. The Mission Statement illustrates the guidelines which have been assumed as high level requirements for the [email protected] program. Taking into account these constraints, the mission and system requirements have been established, from which the technical specifications have been derived, for the satellite itself and for the ground control station.
Figure 1: [email protected] program guidelines
As a matter of fact, as Figure 1 illustrates, the use of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components, the adoption of simple technique and technologies as well as the constraint of an available launcher and thus of the mission orbit, stem directly from the consideration of the [email protected] program as an educational project. Notwithstanding the necessity of keeping things simple and taking into account the educational purpose of the [email protected] program, which implies the will of enhancing the interest and competences of the students, [email protected] has also scientific objectives, which reflect real interests of the scientific, educational and industrial communities. As Figure 2 shows, the choice of possible scientific objectives for the [email protected] program has been driven also by the consideration of the extremely small size of the satellite. As a result, two main scientific objectives and one secondary scientific objective have been identified:
- first main scientific objective: development and test of an active Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem (ADCS);
- second main scientific objective (optional): test of miniaturized fuel cells (then, this objective was considered not affordable and not compatible with the schedule);
- secondary scientific objective: test of commercial components and materials.
Figure 2: [email protected] mission’s scientific objectives
One major criticality arose during the project review and it was related to the fuel cells. Unfortunately, the first tests on the available fuel cells resulted not completely successful. In particular, a water leakage has been detected under vacuum conditions. This fact forced the team to abandon the idea of the fuel cells testing in orbit. It has been taken into account the possibility of considering other types of fuel cells, but it could result in a time consuming activity. In order to respect the time schedule of the program, the team decided to exclude the fuel cells test from the present project. The fuel cells studies have still been carrying on for future applications. It is worth to remind that the fuel cells test was just a secondary objective for the mission.