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JUL/AUG 2013  

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The UK’s first nano-satellite ?mission

Glasgow, Scotland-based Clyde Space is exploring new opportunities using nano-satellites controlled by brushless direct current (DC) motors from maxon motor, according to the Berkshire, U.K-based company.

The aircraft UKube-1, which Clyde Space hopes to launch later this year, will include the first GPS device aimed at measuring plasmaspheric space weather, a camera to take images of Earth and test the effect of radiation on space hardware using a new generation of imaging sensor; an experiment to demonstrate the feasibility of using cosmic radiation to improve the security of communications satellites and flight test lower cost electronic systems, according to maxon motors.

Nano-satellites, or CubeSat’s, are miniaturized satellites used in space research and exploration and generally measure 10cm×10cm×10cm with a mass of less than 1kg. The design has been developed to enable workable satellites to be produced at low cost for research purposes, the company reports.

Clyde Space is working with maxon to improve the future CubeSat attitude control. Improvements would open the opportunity to even greater applications for these nano-satellites, such as earth observation with high resolution camera’s or transmitting high bandwidth data, space science, astronomy and verification of new technologies in orbit.


Clyde Space is working with maxon to improve the future nano-satellite attitude control.

Clyde Space and maxon motor have developed a full 3-axis attitude control system based on torque reaction positioning system that uses a reaction/momentum fly wheel. The reaction wheel is driven by a maxon brushless dc motor. By changing the speed of the flywheel a reactionary torque is applied to rotate the CubeSat around an axis and by maintaining the rotation the CubeSat is stabilized. Several reaction/momentum wheels are used to provide full 3-axis attitude control and stability.

Clyde seletcted a standard off-the-shelf 20mm-dia. maxon motor brushless DC motor that maxon motor then modified to meet the application environment and supplied and fitted the flywheel, as well as dynamically balancing the complete assembly, maxon motor reports.

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