P16103: RIT-SPEX Vibration Test Rig

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

The Problem Definition Documents directory contains our documents.

Project Definition

A CubeSat is a smaller satellite which often serves as a more cost effective means of testing space system technology. Many countries, universities, and industries have begun exploring CubeSat technology as an option since its inception in 1999. Many major organizations such as NASA, Planet Labs, and Los Alamos Laboratories have launched CubeSats in an attempt to expand their presence in space and test new technologies. While still an expensive technology, CubeSats offer a means of establishing a presence in space at a fraction of the cost of a full sized satellite or other larger scale missions. RIT has begun to invest in the design and launch of a CubeSat by forming the RIT Space Exploration Team (RIT SPEX) in the fall of 2014. RIT SPEX intends to use MSD projects and student research positions to develop a launch ready CubeSat by the year 2020.

In order to ensure the CubeSat will be able to be successful in its mission, the CubeSat must have a durable design which can withstand testing designed to simulate vibrations experienced during the launch of the satellite. While facilities currently exist with machinery designed to replicate the vibrations of a launch vehicle, they have a high cost associated with their daily use which is not conducive to the ability of RIT SPEX to test their systems simply and make changes in an iterative fashion.

The goal of this project is to design and construct a vibration test rig capable of simulating the launch environment a CubeSat experiences in common launch vehicles so that the survival and functionality of the RIT SPEX CubeSat can be ensured through the launch stages of the mission. The test rig should provide a more cost effective alternative to vibration testing at outside laboratories. The rig will be stored and used in the RIT SPEX lab, but should still be a manageable size and weight so it can be easily transported. The design for the system will take into account benchmarking and analysis of current test rigs to ensure the design that is best suited for RIT SPEX. The final deliverable will include a bill of materials, complete design documentation, and a user’s guide in order to provide clear insight into the design process as well as the capabilities and limitations of the testing rig.

Project Summary

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Use Cases

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

The end deliverable of this project will be a fully functional vibration test rig capable of simulating vibrations experienced during the launch of the CubeSat into orbit. This will include the following:

Launch Vehicle Requirements


Usage and Documentation

Customer Requirements (Needs)

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Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

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House of Quality

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Risk Analysis





Plans For Next Phase

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