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(September 19) University Cubesat Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic with Prof. Scott Palo and his students | AeroDesign Team of USC: The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners | Nuclear thermal propulsion rocket (NTPR) @ UNLV

September 19, 2020 @ 10:00 am 2:00 pm PDT

(September 19) University Cubesat Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic with Prof. Scott Palo and his students | AeroDesign Team of USC: The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners | Nuclear thermal propulsion rocket (NTPR) @ UNLV

Sep 19, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 2 PM (PT)

RSVP and Information: https://conta.cc/2Y1WjyS

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(Captions for the pictures above:)
Left: Students at the University of Colorado in Boulder put together this “flatsat” simulator of their MAXWELL cubesat, which they connect to remotely to test software from home. (Credit: University of Colorado Boulder; Aerospace America) | Right: AeroDesign Team of USC: The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners. | Bottom: Artist’s impression of bimodal NTR engines on a Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV). Cold launched, it would be assembled in-orbit by a number of Block 2 SLS payload lifts. The Orion spacecraft is docked on the left. (Wikipedia)


AIAA LA LV 9/19 e-Town Hall Meeting

Saturday, September 19, 2020, 10 AM

(Add to Calendar)



University Cubesat Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Prof. Scott Palo

Victor Charles Schelke Endowed Professor

Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences

University of Colorado Boulder, and

Chair, AIAA Small Satellite Technical Committee (SmSTC)


the students:

MAXWELL – Matt Zola

CU-E3 (To be launched on Artemis-1) – Brodie Wallace

CIRBE – Evan Bauch

AeroDesign Team of USC:
The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners
AeroDesign Team of USC
Randi Arteaga, Program Manager,
Chair, AIAA USC Student Branch
Drew Hudock, Chief Engineer
Colton Bullard, Payloads Lead
Erin Pugh, Landing Gear Lead
Diana Salcedo-Pierce, Structures Lead
Jack Ahrens, Aerodynamics, Stability & Control Lead
Jackson Markow, Performance Lead
Mikell Myers, Propulsion Lead
(Please click “RSVP & Information” to see bio of those ADT members)

The Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Rocket (NTPR)
Valerie Lawdensky
PhD candidate in nuclear and thermal engineering at UNLV
Graduate Research Assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory
(Please click “RSVP & Information” to see bio of those ADT members)

Agenda (Tentative) (All Time PDT)

10:05 AM: (Welcome) Dr. Chandrashekhar Sonwane
10:10 AM: (Part I) Prof. Scott Palo, Matt Zola, Brodie Wallace, and Evan Bauch
12:30 PM: (Part II) AeroDesign Team of USC: The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners
01:15 PM: (Part III) Nuclear thermal propulsion rocket (NTPR): Valerie Lawdensky (5th-year PhD student at UNLV)
02:00 PM: Adjourn


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What? (Part I) University Cubesat Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Aerospace America reported (8 May, 2020) that in Amanda’s Miller’s telephone interview with University of Colorado, Boulder aerospace and engineering sciences Professor Scott Palo – who chairs AIAA’s Small Satellite Technical Committee – the two discussed his work with University of Colorado graduate students on the development of the MAXWELL cubesat. In his basement, Palo “has hooked up a battery power supply, soldering tools and an oscilloscope – all liberated from his lab” before the COVID-19 pandemic forced him and his students to leave campus. The “idea was to ‘have the tools of the testing’ ready to continue trying out cubesat components and software either at home or by connecting to the lab remotely, he says.” Anticipating the campus closure, “a student team worked in the lab for three days to set up a flatsat, or simulated, version of their upcoming U.S. Air Force-funded MAXWELL cubesat, short for Multiple Access X-band Wave Experiment Located in LEO. From their homes, Palo and his students access, via the internet, this networked array of electronics that are just like the ones planned for MAXWELL, which is now in the testing phase.” This way, “they can continue to upload software for testing.” MAXWELL is “one of 18 small satellites selected by NASA to be deployed as secondary rocket payloads from 2021 to 2023.” MAXWELL “will demonstrate a radio design for smallsats.”

Who? (Part I) Prof. Scott Palo, and the students:
Matt Zola, Brodie Wallace, Evan Bauch

Scott Palo is the Charles Victor Schelke Endowed Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has 20 years of experience in higher education, is the director of the Space Technology Integration Lab, co-director of the Active Remote Sensing Lab and former Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU. Since 2001 he has been involved with the design, construction and operation of numerous small satellites including DANDE, CSSWE, MinXSS-1&2 and QB50-Challenger all which have flown. He is leading the development of CU-E3, Maxwell and SWARM-EX cubesats. CU-E3 will launch on the SLS with Artemis-1 and will be one of the first Deep Space CubeSats to be flown.

Dr. Palo is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA, Senior Member of the IEEE and has won numerous awards including an NSF Early Career Award, AIAA Rocky Mountain Region Educator of the year and the United States Antarctic Service medal.

In 2018 Dr. Palo chose to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and co-founded Blue Cubed LLC, a new space startup company focused on the development of next generation communications technology to support the rapidly expanding small satellite market. Dr. Palo currently splits his time between Blue Cubed and CU where he continues to teach both undergraduate and graduate students in the skills required to design, build, test and operate small satellites and other emerging aerospace technologies.

the students:
MAXWELL – Matt Zola
CU-E3 (To be launched on Artemis-1) – Brodie Wallace
CIRBE – Evan Bauch


What? (Part II) AeroDesign Team of USC: (ADT)
The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners
The AeroDesign Team of USC is the university’s official entrant into the annual AIAA Design/Build/Fly competition. The USC AeroDesign Team placed 1st in the competition, and had the highest scoring report. Join us as the student-run team provides a deep dive into the efforts behind their winning plane and takes us through their eight-month-long process of designing, building, flying, and winning.

Who? (Part II) AeroDesign Team of USC: (ADT)
The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners
(Please click “RSVP & Information” to see bio of those ADT members)

Randi Arteaga
Program Manager

Drew Hudock
Chief Engineer

Colton Bullard
Payloads Lead

Erin Pugh
Landing Gear Lead

Diana Salcedo-Pierce Structures Lead

Jack Ahrens
Aerodynamics, Stability & Control Lead

Jackson Markow
Performance Lead

Mikell Myers
Propulsion Lead


What? (Part III) The Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Rocket (NTPR)
Space transportation systems have been advancing to meet the goals of long-distance space travel and long-term space habitation since the beginning of the space race, and one contender from the 1950s still has a lot to offer with some new designs and analyses employed to solve old technical challenges and new mission needs. The nuclear thermal propulsion rocket (NTPR) can double the specific impulse of modern chemical rockets and be designed to generate both electricity and propulsion. This modular reactor functions by introducing a separate but simultaneous thermodynamic loop to the existing high temperature hydrogen loop. Using heat pipes within the structural tie-tube elements, extra heat is transferred from the reactor to a power conversion system. This functionality is dependent on reducing the mass loss in fuel elements due to chemical and mechanical interactions with the high-temperature hydrogen that was observed in the NTPR program’s experiments, NERVA, which tested both niobium carbide and zirconium carbide coatings before its abrupt cancellation. Test samples with other coatings were fabricated but never tested, warranting this investigation into optimal coatings based on minimal hydrogen diffusion, high thermal conductivity, thermal expansion coefficient which matches that of the fuel elements, and no impedance to the surrounding nuclear reactions. This paper presents a model of an NTPR reactor in the Monte Carlo N-Particle Transport Code (MCNP). The fuel coatings and composition are varied, first to compare against the experimental NERVA results, and then the newer coatings and compositions are analyzed. The goal of this modeling is to determine the axial and radial distributions of neutron flux throughout the reactor core and the energy deposition per unit mass. The energy deposition is used in determining the temperature distribution throughout the reactor core, which can affect the degradation of the fuel and therefore be adjusted to reduce such fuel losses. In addition, the hydrogen propellant content within the fuel elements of the MCNP model is reduced and the control drums rotated for compensation in order to demonstrate bimodality of the reactor from complete propulsion through complete electricity generation. A DOE-developed heat pipe analysis code is used to evaluate the electrical power potential of the NTPR and the functionality of the reactor with reduced moderation and surface area exposed to coolant.

Who? (Part III) Valerie Lawdensky
Valerie Lawdensky is a fifth-year PhD student at UNLV. She started life as an aspiring singer and actress, but math got in the way. She began college courses part-time at 15 in order to take calculus and full-time at 16 to study psychology, math, and music. After a bet with her dad, she took her first physics class at age 18 and ultimately declined the professor’s request to become a physicist, opting instead for a degree in mechanical engineering. She couldn’t give up math and psychology entirely, so turned them into minors. In putting the degree before the career, she hadn’t decided what to do as a graduated engineer, then realized that astronauts were often engineers and that turned into her driving force. Somehow six years of college wasn’t enough, so she then opted to continue on for a PhD in thermal engineering. Upon learning of the wonders of nuclear rockets, she made nuclear engineering her primary focus in order to become one of the few multiphysics doctors and a nuclear rocket scientist. The complexities of these amazing technologies have called her to working on component-level analysis tools for the time being, but her heart, mind, and future are with the development and use of advanced propulsion. 


Online on Zoom
(Zoom connection information will be provided in the confirmation email after registration.)
Saturday, September 19, 2020, 10 AM

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