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Space Blog

Shaun Kenyon talks tiny tech and satellite-speak

Space Blog caught up with Shaun Kenyon from SSTL’s Mission Concepts following a busy IAC 2010 at the start of the month for the eagerly awaited follow-up to our Mission Concepts interview with Kathryn Graham. Shaun is perhaps one of the luckiest men in the building. One of his tasks is to keep on top of the latest commercial technologies and space research, and evaluate any synergies with SSTL activities.
The space industry today is moving forward as fast as ever. What's great about my job is that I keep my finger on that pulse so to speak, and help work out how SSTL fits and in some cases lead in that future.
Shaun Kenyon - Mission Concepts
Shaun Kenyon - Mission Concepts
There’s so much to cover that we have put together a series of small stories to give you a taste of the technical research developments afoot in Mission Concepts. Here’s an introduction. Nano-satellites The classification of satellites varies from place to place, but Mission Concepts constantly reviews the feasibility of using 10-50 kg nano-micro satellites for SSTL missions. This would come as no great surprise from the small satellite pioneer, but the question is what applications are they suitable for? Shaun said: "Nanosats really excite me at the moment. There's real momentum building up behind the cubesat movement and other nano-satellite developments. SSTL spearheaded a quiet revolution over the last few decades that saw microsatellites become acceptable for industrial use. I see current nanosat developments as a continuation of that revolution, and naturally I'd like to see SSTL be involved!" Shaun’s Team Leader Kathryn Graham commented: "One of the questions we are asking ourselves is what could a Disaster Monitoring Constellation-type program using nano-satellites achieve?" We’ll be exploring the varying size and application of nano-satellites with Shaun in the coming weeks so watch this space. Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Kathryn’s colleague Shaun is looking at flying common Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and other miniaturized components seen in everyday modern technologies like games consoles and using them for applications as wide ranging as attitude determination, attitude control, Failure Detection, Isolation and Recovery (FDIR), space weather monitoring, and manipulating radio parts to miniaturize low data rate communications. Inter-Satellite Links (ISLs) Mission Concepts is also looking at a number of exciting ways to communicate between satellites "“ with wide ranging application for both constellations and formations. These include reducing the lag time for tasking Earth Observation (EO) satellites to acquire images of the Earth, using industry standard 802.11 wireless networking ("Wi -Fi") between nano-satellites to coordinate a swarm of nano-satellites, and using miniature lasers for interplanetary communications. Stay tuned for more on Inter-Satellite Links (ISLs) and Wi-Fi swarms. Plug and play satellites SSTL has a long history of building and launching reliable space-grade missions more quickly and cost effectively by applying Commerical Off The Shelf (COTS) technology. USB is not an exception "“ Mission Concepts is considering the use of electrical interfaces like USB for responsive space applications - plug and play means "build it quick".





03 November 20100 Comments1 Comment

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