14-11-14 - Vibration Test at ESTEC - Day 5

The final day of the test campaign mostly consisted of a meeting with the entire FYS!-team, in which we discussed the non-conformances that had occurred during the test campaign, including ideas for their origin and what could be done to solve them. For AAUSAT4, the main concern was the protuding antennas and the issue we experienced with the SWISS. We discussed how we could further investigate these issues when we arrived back in Aalborg, so we will be able to solve then and the vibration test can be redone at a later time. This way, we will hopefully soon have a satellite that is ready for takeoff! :-)

14-11-14 - Vibration Test at ESTEC - Day 4

AAUSAT4 in it's transporting case ready to go home

AAUSAT4 as it is being pulled out of the P-POD deployer

Today started with us performing a Low Level Sine sweep, which showed that everything inside the satellites seemed to be fine. We had a videographer stop by to shoot some video of the vibration testing, which is to be used for a video about the FYS!-program. After the sweep the FYS!-team spent a few hours dismounting the satellites form the deployer, after which the visual inspection of both satellites began.

For AAUSAT4, a few spots had appeared on the solar panels. Also, some greasy residue, probably from the deployer, had appeared on the frame. It was also observed that the antennas had protruded on 3 out of 4 sides, with the two sides with the longer UHF antennas protruding the most. This could suggest that the cause of the protrusion lies in the wire holding the antenna, as a result of it being stretched during the test. Nothing can however be concluded yet, before AAUSAT4 has been inspected more in-depth. A few NCR’s (non-conformances) were raised during the visible inspection, because of the protruded antennas and the dust/spots/grease.

After the visual inspection had concluded, a Reduced Functional Test (RFT) was conducted, to see if AAUSAT4 was performing properly.
Unfortunately, this was not the case, since the satellite did not perform as expected in a few parts of the test.
It appeared as if there were some problems communicating with the satellite over CAN, and additionally the SWISS self-test failed. The SWISS subsystem is a pure software subsystem that contains the LOG and the FlightPlanner, which enables us to upload operations to the satellite which it is supposed to perform later in its orbit. As of now, we do not yet have any ideas as to what might be the cause of the problems, but it is something we will look into, when performing a closer inspection and diagnostic of AAUSAT4, when we get back to Aalborg.

During the RFT, we were interviewed for the previously mentioned FYS! video.
After the RFT, the entire testing procedure was finished, and we packed everything up and started writing some of the many non-conformance reports we have to fill out. Tomorrow will consist of a debriefing meeting to summarize what has happened during the test campaign, and what will happen from now on with OUFTI-1 and AAUSAT4.

Photos from today are now on Flickr:

14-11-12 - Vibration Test at ESTEC - Day 3

AAUSAT4 mounted in the P-POD launcher

One of the slightly protruded antennas on AAUSAT4

Today, the actual vibration test begun. We started by doing a High Level Sine Sweep, where the frequency varied from 10 Hz to 200 Hz, but with much greater amplitude than the Low Level Sine Sweep from yesterday. After the sweep was completed, we went to inspect the satellites. Unfortunately, we observed that the antenna on the visible side of AAUSAT4 had extruded slightly due to the vibration. This could be interpreted as a partial deployment, but since the wire that was holding the antenna was still intact, it was more a displacement than a partial deployment.
It did however result in a discussion with the entire FYS!-team on whether we should continue the test campaign, based on if there would be an increased risk of the antennas deploying, as well as what the cause might be for the displacement. During the discussion, it was decided to continue the campaign, since we were very certain that the risk of the antennas deploying had not increased, and that there was no risk of the antennas harming neither AAUSAT4 nor OUFTI-1 in the unlikely event of an unintended deployment.
The next step in the test campaign was to conduct a Random Vibration test, where the vibrations happened at random frequencies. In-between the High Level Sine and the Random test, a Low Level Sine Sweep was conducted, to see if the resonance point of the satellites had changed, thus indicating that something may have moved inside the satellites. This was not the case, and it was also observed that the antennas on AAUSAT4 had not moved any further either.
After this, we went for lunch and meanwhile, the orientation of the deployer was changed to shake the satellites in the longitudinal direction (i.e. in the up-down direction). The procedure for this axis was the same as with the first axis, with the difference that the amplitude of the vibrations was greater, since the longitudinal axis is where the greatest acceleration will happen during launch. Afterwards another Random Vibration test was conducted. However during the inspection after the Random Vibration test, it was observed, that the wire holding the antenna on OUFTI-1 had breached. This unfortunate event led to the decision to stop the test campaign, since there was no reason to keep testing two satellites that were not going to pass the test.

After this decision was made, we all decided to go to the event happening at the Space Expo center at ESTEC, which took place in conjunction with ESA trying to land the spacecraft “Philae” on a comet, as a part of the Rosetta mission. Here we saw a livestream from the ESOC (European Space Operations Centre) from which Rosetta is being operated. Luckily, it seemed like the landing went well, although Philae might have rebounded from the first landing and then landed again. Overall, the event was very interesting, and it was very cool to be right at the center of things, at the moment when such an exciting and incredibly rare event takes place.

Tomorrow, the plan is that we will do another Low Level Sine Sweep, just to make sure that nothing inside the satellites is broken, followed by the removal of the satellites from the deployer.

The photos are now on our Flickr page:

14-11-11 - Vibration Test at ESTEC - Day 2

AAUSAT4 at the shaking table at ESTEC

AAUSAT4 being inspected while in the 3U P-POD luncher at ESTEC

Our second day at ESTEC started with us checking if the kill switches on the satellite were pressed as they are supposed to be when the satellite is in the deployer. We also conducted a visual inspection, to make sure nothing had happened to the satellite after we mounted it in the deployer yesterday. After this, the FYS! Team started preparing for the actual vibration test. This involved checking if the vibration table functioned properly, as well as mounting the deployer on the vibration table. The team also mounted accelerometers onto the vibration table and the deployer as well as on OUFTI-1 and the dummy load separating AAUSAT4 and OUFTI-1 in the deployer, but not onto AAUSAT4 since there was not room to mount it on the satellite without the risk of doing structural damage.

Meanwhile, a committee from the ESA administration stopped by and had a brief tour of the cleanroom, and an introduction to the purpose of AAUSAT4 and OUFTI-1. After this, a Test Readiness Review (TRR) was held. A TRR is a meeting where everyone participating in the test are present, and are held to decide whether or not the satellites are ready to be tested. During this review, the plan for the testing is also discussed.

For the vibration test, the plan is to test one axis at a time (one axis per day was expected as a realistic timeframe), with a visual inspection of the satellites in between each change of axis. The TRR also involved discussing if there were any non-conformances on the satellites that would invalidate the test. Since this was not the case, it was decided to begin the testing by conducting a Low Level Sine test i.e. vibrating the satellites with G-forces at lower levels than those in the real test. This was done to make sure everything performed as expected. After the Low Level Sine test, a visual inspection of the satellites was performed. After this, it was decided to stop for the day and begin the actual vibration test tomorrow, which were are looking forward to.

The photos from today have been uploaded to our Flickr page:

141110 - Vibration Test at ESTEC - Day 1

In preparation for the vibration test of AAUSAT4 at the ESTEC facilities, the weekend was spent completing the Mission Test and preparing the satellite. This was done by rewinding the antennas and securing all the screws and connectors with epoxy, as well as performing an RFT (reduced functional test) to make sure the satellite was performing as expected.

After getting up at 4 AM to catch our plane to the Netherlands, we landed in Amsterdam around 7:30, and then took the train and bus to the ESTEC facility. Here we were greeted by the Fly Your Satellite! Team, and immediately headed to the cleanroom to perform a visual inspection of the satellite to make sure it had not been damaged during transportation.

After the visual inspection, an RFT was performed, to make sure the satellite was also performing as expected after transportation.

During the vibration test, AAUSAT4 is accompanied by the Belgian OUFTI-1 satellite, another satellite which is part of the FYS!-program. After lunch, we had to measure the dimensions of the satellite, to verify that it complies with the requirements, so we are sure that it will fit in the deployer.

Then it was time to fit the CubeSat’s in the deployer very carefully, and start tightening the springs in the bottom of the deployer, to make sure the satellites are firmly secured, so they are not bumping into each other during the test.

After spending a few hours observing the ESA staff doing this, we decided to head back to our Bed n’ Breakfast and conclude our first, long, day here in the Netherlands. Tomorrow, we will begin the actual vibration test.

Photos are now on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118193674@N04/sets/72157648831307898/

Nov 2014 - Final ESA Test

We will in middle of November carry out the last tests at Estec - stay tuned.

Thanks to SparNord :

A very good history atSpar Nord Fonden and AAUSATs

Test campaign at ESTEC

The purpose of our stay at ESTEC is to expose AAUSAT4 to two different environmental tests: a thermal vacuum test and a vibration test.
The purpose of the thermal vacuum test is to place AAUSAT4 in an environment like the one present in orbit. This means placing AAUSAT4 in a thermal vacuum chamber which can pump out all the air thus creating a vacuum, and then also heat and cool the satellite while it's inside. The satellite will undergo several hot and cold cycles like it would in space. While these thermal cycles are performed we will be monitoring the health of the satellite by performing small functional tests which are designed to test all satellite functionalities work as expected.
The vibration test will expose the satellite to g-forces and vibrations it will experience during the rocket launch in to space. This will be done by placing the satellite on a shaker which is able to shake the satellite at specific frequencies with specific loads (g-forces). We will be performing functionality tests both before and after in order to establish the health and functionality of AAUSAT4.

Photo gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118193674@N04/sets/72157645615820712/

140711 Day 4 at ESTEC

With the satellite already at 0 degrees we were already well on our way to reach the minimum non operational temperature of -20 degrees. Most of the day was spent on waiting for the temperature to first settle at the minimum non operational temperature and afterwards get it up to the minimum operational temperature (at -10 degrees). At this point a new RRFT was performed in order again establish the health and well being of AAUSAT4. While the RRFT was passed without any problems, we encountered some discrepancies during temperature readings.
In this case it was a temperature sensor on one of the sides that was giving a reading outside of the acceptable range (a difference of over 10 degrees). Also an internal temperature sensor was giving a reading which was outside of the expected range (over 2 degrees). It was concluded that the non acceptable reading of the side was due to a wrong bias (the sensor not being callibrated correctly), which we will be able to handle after the thermal vacuum test. For the internal sensor the difference was attributed to the subsystem being in thermal transition. We had just turned the subsystem on, prior to making the reading so the temperature sensor under test and the control temperature sensors were giving different measurements do to th distance between them. So in reality the reading is most likely thermally delayed.
After these non conformances had been reported the day was at an end, and we turned off the satellite and the thermal vacuum chamber was set to ambient temperature for the weekend.

140710 Day 3 at ESTEC

Performing a Reduced Reduced Functional Test (RRFT)

A happy student during thermal vacuum test

So after a night in vacuum we were eager to see if AAUSAT4 was still well. The thermal vacuum chamber had reached a pressure of 10 nanobar during the night and by visual inspection the satellite seemed okay. We proceeded to start the hot cycle.
The goal of the day was to reach the maximum non operational temperature (55 degrees), stay there for 1-2 hours, then go down to the maximum operational temperature (45 degrees) and do an RFT and then go down to 0 degrees preparing for the cold cycle to be done next day.
The maximum non operational hot temperature was reached faster than expected, using only 3 hours. We dwelled there for a little over an hour and then proceeded to lower the temperature down to the maximum operational temperature.
At this point we performed a "Reduced Reduced Function Test" (RRFT) which is a reduced version of the RFT in order to save time. The RRFT test only takes between 15-20 minutes to perform where the RFT takes between 35-40 minutes to perform. This RRFT was done succesfully. However, we encountered a peculiar result. The malfunctioning temperature sesnor from day 2 was now reading temperatures in the correct range. From here we decided to not do anything about it and see how the temperature sensor will act in the coming days and temperature cycles.
After the RRFT was done and passed during the hot cycle, we set a new set point for the thermal vacuum chamber at 0 degrees, where it would dwell for the night while AAUSAT4 would be turned off.

140709 Day 2 at ESTEC

Jesper, Kasper and Mathias ready to test!

AAUSAT4 inside the thermal vacuum chamber

The day started off where the other left off. Basicly we were to finalize all of the integration of AAUSAT4 in to the thermal vacuum chamber. While it had been established that we could charge the satellite and monitor voltage, we still did not know whether communication was possible through wire or radio.
We attempted to perform a RFT with the satellite hanging inside the thermal vacuum chamber with attached wire, but with the door still open. However, it was not possible to communicate with AAUSAT4 via our groundstation. At first we were concerned that the cable through which we were attempting to communicate was too long, though the cable was tested at AAU.
It was established that it was a simple case of using a wrong software version for the groundstation. A quick restart with the correct version and we were able to do an RFT. During the test we discovered that one of our temperature sensors on our side panels are giving incorrect readings. When working with ESA this means that we had to submit a "Non Conformance Report" (NCR) explaining what was wrong and what action we recommend be taken. Since the component is not mission critical we recommended that the test should proceed.
After the RFT was done we could now close the chamber. Before the thermal vacuum test could be initiated though, we were to have Test Readiness Review (TRR) which is a meeting that will establish if the test is allowed to be initiated. At this meeting we had the ESA education department personel and the test facility personel present. The status of AAUSAT4 was reviewed, as well as the integration and the NCR with the faulty sensor was discussed. It was finally agreed by all parties that the thermal vacuum test could be initiated.
Directly following the TRR we started pumping out air of the thermal vacuum chamber and which will establish an environment with vacuum but ambient temperature levels.
When we reached an acceptable vacuum level (in this case 90 nanobar), we did a new RFT to ensure that AAUSAT4 was still functioning. After the good health of the satellite had been establiblished we (and the satellite) were ready for the first hot temperature cycle. However, the day was at an end and the AAUSAT4 was turned off and left in vacuum during the night.

140708 Day 1 at ESTEC

Mathias integrating AAUSAT4 in the thermal vacuum chamber

AAUSAT4 integrated in the thermal vacuum chamber

After a long nights drive we arrived at our Bed n Breakfast at 1:30 in the night only to be at ESTEC the next morning. Upon arrival at ESTEC we were greeted by the Fly Your Satellite! team who are going to be helping and overseeing us throughout our stay at their facility.
Almost immediately we went to the testing facility with all of our equipment and of course our satellite AAUSAT4. The first test we are to perform is the thermal vacuum test. So most of our first day was spent on establishing a testing station beside the thermal vacuum chamber. After the testing station had been established it was time to turn our attention to AAUSAT4. It had been almost a 9 our drive here, so it was of great interrest to perform a visual inspection of the satellite and also to perform what we call a "Reduced Functional Test" or "RFT". The RFT is a test designed to quickly establish if AAUSAT4 is in good health and that nothing is broken (electrically). The visual inspection did not show any signs of damage from the trip, and during the RFT only a few kinks were encountered which were caused by issuing a wrong command during the test. But the RFT was also passed and the satellite was in fact in good health after the long trip.
After these initial tests the satellite was intergrated in to the thermal vacuum chamber. This meant hanging the satellite in suspension inside the thermal vacuum chamber and attaching electrical connections through wire to monitor the satellite health. During this thermal vacuum test the satellite will primarily be operated by wired electrical connection, but we will also be testing the radio communication and attempt issuing commands by radio.
Finally after the thermal chamber integration it was established that our most basic electrical connections to the satellite worked and that we could charge the satellite batteries through wire. At this point it was late afternoon and it was time to go home to our hotel.

As of July 2014 we are now in test at ESA/ESTEC. Follow news below.

140707 Test at ESTEC

The team has now started testing at ESTEC. It will last until July 25th so that will our best tested cubesat ever !

Stay tuned

140708 - Updated sponsorlist

Our sponsors

To put it very short - Without sponsors no satellites !

  • Gold++ Sponsor
    • Sparnord Fonden
  • Gold Sponsors
    • Søfartsstyrelsen
    • Printca
    • Marel Denmark
    • Hytek Aalborg
  • Silver Sponsors
    • Mekoprint
  • Bronze Sponsors
    • Cobham
    • Rohde-Schwarz

140707 - On way to test AAUSAT4

Now the team has lelft Aalborg heading ESTEC in the Netherlands.

AAUSAT4 will tested for 2 weeks at ESTEC's pro facilitites.

We will come back with more news the coming days.

140313 - FYS Phase 2 Kick-Off Workshop at ESTEC

Thermal vacuum chamber at ESA

Yesterday we had our first day of visit at ESA for the kickoff workshop for FYS phase 2. We heard a lot of people present the different tests that AAUSAT4 and AAUSAT5 are going to undergo. The tests are mainly a thermal vacuum and vibration test. The picture below shows one of the big vacuum chambers that ESA has in their laboratory.

140207 - ESA Phase 1 Review

We have now come through af number of RIDs and have now the best documentation we have made on any our satellite - thanks to ESA. The documentation has now to pass a Phase1 Review at ESA.

131203 - October Assembly of AAUSAT4

Assembly of AAUSAT4.

During the assembly of AAUSAT4 back in October a lot of pictures were taken. These pictures have now been combined to a gif, showing the steps of the AAUSAT4 assembly procedure.

As you can see the whole stack is assembled and is operational before integration in the Frame. The modular structure of the AAUSAT4 eases development both in the early and later stages of the project.

131125 STATUS - 100 days

Since August we have upgraded an documented AAUSAT3 according to ESA requirements.

We do call it AAUSAT4 and will fly a modernized version of our AIS receiver which has shown very good performance on AAUSAT3. Furthermore an upgrade of our ADCS system and removal of our static ADCS (read magnet) will give an even better performance - we hope.

So all are very tired but also happy with the result.

June 2013

As time of writing - June 2013 - we are happy to announce that we have been pre qualified together with five other cubesat projects to be on ESA Educations cubesat flight.

We hope we can fulfill their requirements.

The first workshop at Estec is 26-28. June 2013 and we will be there :-)

Follow our AAUSAT4Logbook

If you want to ... build satellites as part of studying for electronic engineers we have room for you this autumn :-)

Email us and lets have a discussion

Jens(jdnATes.aau.dk) and Jesper(jalATes.aau.dk) - management


FM is based on AAUSAT3 HW and SW. AAUSAT3 has gained flight heritage since 25. February 2013 and we are happy to say that all our sub systems are working beyond expectations.

On AAUSAT4Background is why we - only 100 days after launch of AAUSAT3 - is very close to FM for AAUSAT4 and an ESA launch.

This has been a very pleasant surprise for us and has given birth to our fourth generation of space students - mainly from 6th semester.

Stay tuned for the coming weeks :-)

So until further notice please visit AAUSAT3 for a description of AAUSAT4.


The AAUSAT3 mechanical design is currently being updated for the AAUSAT4 mission. Changes includes simplification of production and integration, and solar panels on all 6 sides. Hence we have to change the frame and the antenna to fit the 1U height, why not make some performance enhancements to the antenna. Spoiler alert: Will AAUSAT4 include antenna (polarization) diversity for AIS?

For more information please contact Jens (jdnATes.aau.dk) or Jesper (jalATes.aau.dk)