Status Report

MinXSS-1 CubeSat On-Orbit Pointing and Power Performance

By SpaceRef Editor
June 22, 2017
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MinXSS-1 CubeSat On-Orbit Pointing and Power Performance: The First Flight of the Blue Canyon Technologies XACT 3-axis Attitude Determination and Control System

James Paul Mason, Matt Baumgart, Bryan Rogler, Chloe Downs, Margaret Williams, Thomas N. Woods, Scott Palo, Phillip C. Chamberlin, Stanley Solomon, Andrew Jones, Xinlin Li, Rick Kohnert, Amir Caspi
(Submitted on 21 Jun 2017)

The Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS) is a 3 Unit (3U) CubeSat designed for a 3-month mission to study solar soft X-ray spectral irradiance. The first of the two flight models was deployed from the International Space Station in 2016 May and operated for one year before its natural deorbiting. This was the first flight of the Blue Canyon Technologies XACT 3-axis attitude determination and control system — a commercially available, high-precision pointing system. We characterized the performance of the pointing system on orbit including performance at low altitudes where drag torque builds up. We found that the pointing accuracy was 0.0042\degree\ – 0.0117\degree\ (15″ – 42″, 3σ, axis dependent) consistently from 190 km – 410 km, slightly better than the specification sheet states. Jitter was estimated to be 0.0073\degree\ (10 s−1) – 0.0183\degree\ (10 s−1) (26″ (10 s−1) – 66″ (10 s−1), 3σ). The system was capable of dumping momentum until an altitude of 185 km. We found small amounts of sensor degradation in the star tracker or coarse sun sensor. Our mission profile did not require high-agility maneuvers so we are unable to characterize this metric. Without a GPS receiver, it was necessary to periodically upload ephemeris information to update the orbit propagation model and maintain pointing. At 400 km, these uploads were required once every other week. At ∼270 km, they were required every day. We also characterized the power performance of our electric power system, which includes a novel pseudo-peak power tracker — simply a resistor that limited the current draw from the battery on the solar panels. With 19 30\% efficient solar cells and an 8 W system load, the power balance had 65\% of margin on orbit. We present several recommendations to other CubeSat programs throughout.

Comments:    11 pages, 16 figures, submitted to Journal of Small Satellites
Subjects:    Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as:    arXiv:1706.06967 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1706.06967v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: James Mason
[v1] Wed, 21 Jun 2017 15:43:36 GMT (6520kb,D)

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