A satellite computer designed to serve as the basis of a small, reusable satellite platform has been developed by students at the University of Stuttgart. Part of the “Flying Laptop” project, the compact computer is designed for “micro” satellites of up to about 130 kg and integrates computer functions and a power supply unit that can be used as the main satellite supply.
The computer is said to be among the fastest available for such purposes, and is based on radiation-resistant chips, in contrast to computers of other small university satellites. The unit consists of four single-board computers providing the following functions:
- Core board based around the Aeroflex LEON3FT processor, a 32-bit SPARC V8 microprocessor with on-chip interfaces including cPCI, SpaceWire and CAN
- I/O board operated by a radiation-tolerant FPGA
- Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) protocols telemetry/telecommands board
- Power Control and Distribution Unit
Power is provided by three solar panels along with commercial off-the-shelf Lithium iron phosphate cells. The battery system comprises three battery cell strings — one for each solar panel — providing a nominal voltage of 23.1 V and capacity of 35 Ah.
The launch of a small satellite with the computer on board is planned for early 2014. The satellite will also contain three on-board camera systems, intended for recording shipping movements and vegetation measurements, as well as other observations.
Editor's note: This blog, originally posted on EBN sister site EDN, explores a small, reusable satellite platform. The spark of innovation comes from students, no less, and has applications beyond the immediate opportunity presented. Share your thoughts in the comments field below.