Critical Design Review Workshop – Day 2,3 and 4
After an exciting 4 days at the European Space Agency’s Space Technology Research Centre (ESTEC), the EIRSAT-1 team are back in Ireland. The Critical Design Review Workshop, organised by the Fly Your Satellite! Programme, was a 4 day workshop involving meetings with ESA experts and the Fly Your Satellite! team, presentations and hands-on workshops to train us for the next stages of our mission. ESTEC is situated in Noordwijk in the Netherlands, and is ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands. 4 teams from the Fly Your Satellite! Programme took part in this workshop, and we each gained a huge amount from it.
After an exciting first day at ESTEC meeting ESA experts, 4 members of the EIRSAT-1 team took part in a Space Soldering workshop on day two of the CDR workshop. The 8 hour workshop took place in a clean room with dedicated space soldering equipment. We quickly learned that space soldering is a very precise skill. Each joint that is soldered to the circuit boards must be thoroughly cleaned and inspected under a microscope. The circuit boards and solder cannot have any air pockets, as in space these pockets could burst and cause damage to the spacecraft. Led by Koen DeBeule, we each learned how to solder for space applications and each of our joints were inspected at each stage. The EIRSAT-1 team did well, with 3 ‘flight-ready’ joints soldered between the 4 team members.
Day 3 kicked off with presentations from each of the 4 teams that attended the CDR workshop. These presentations highlighted any changes to the design of the satellite since the selection workshop in May. It was incredibly interesting to get an insight into the other CubeSats and their experiments. After these presentations, we got a chance to have a look around the Space Expo, an exhibition of ESA’s endeavours over the years. It was like being in a space playground, with a model of part of the International Space Station!
The afternoon consisted of an Assembly, Integration and Verification workshop. This workshop involved working in teams to write down a step by step guide to build a CanSat structure. The instructions would then be passed to another team, who would have to follow them regimentally. I think this workshop really showed us the precision and detail needed when writing procedures to carry out tests or assemble components of our satellites. We also had a presentation on Product Assurance and lessons learned from another mission called OPS-SAT. It was nice to hear about the struggles of another mission and ways that we can prepare for and counteract these issues.
Whilst at the Space Expo we got to meet with Irish ESA employees – it was really nice to hear their support for our mission and to see the mark that Ireland makes at ESA. I think it gave the team a real sense of Ireland’s contribution to space and how our mission is advancing Ireland’s space footprint. Thanks to them for their time!
The last day of the workshop involved meetings with ESA experts. Each of these experts have reviewed the documentation we submitted and have provided feedback on their area of expertise eg. software, on board data handling, etc. The team sat down with these experts to discuss and propose solutions to any outlying issues in the satellite design. In response to these issues, the experts propose actions to be taken to solve the issues. We now have strict deadlines to carry out these actions.
Arriving back in Dublin, we have a clear understanding of the actions we must take in the coming months before we can advance to the next phase of our mission – testing. We thank the ESA experts and the Fly Your Satellite! team for their incredible help and support during this beneficial workshop. We each learned a huge amount during the busy 4 days and the experience has equipped us with the knowledge and extra motivation to continue working on our mission.
The next month will involve a lot of hard work to make sure we address the actions assigned to us, but I think we’re all a little bit more inspired after the CDR workshop. Keep up to date with our progress on the blog and on Twitter!