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AFIT’s SkyPad Launch a Success

Posted Monday, June 15, 2020

 


The Air Force Institute of Technology’s Center for Space Research and Assurance SkyPad team, composed of more than 60 students, military, and civilians, delivered a space-ready mission in less than six months.  Signatures from the team were laser etched into the baseplate of the Skypad payload.  On Sunday, May 17, 2020, the USSF-7 mission successfully launched the Air Force Institute of Technology’s SkyPad, a payload aboard the United States Air Force Academy’s FalconSat-8 spacecraft bus, which is an experiment hosted on the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.  (AFIT Contributed Photo)
 
 

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - On Sunday, May 17, the USSF-7 mission successfully launched the Air Force Institute of Technology’s SkyPad, a payload aboard the United States Air Force Academy’s FalconSat-8 spacecraft bus, which is an experiment hosted on the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.
 
SkyPad’s mission is to demonstrate star tracking and high performance on-board processing using commercial cameras and graphic processing units. The GPUs will be reprogrammable on-orbit to enable experimentation in star tracking, image processing, data compression, and orbit determination using software code developed at AFIT. 
 
“The SkyPad payload gave students an invaluable exposure to the pressures and realities of space systems engineering,” said Maj. Robert Bettinger, deputy director, AFIT’s Center for Space Research and Assurance.
 
“In less than six months, the team of faculty, staff, and students delivered a space-ready mission ahead of schedule, which stands as a testament to the power of the expertise of AFIT’s space vehicle design program,” said Bettinger.
 
The payload employs an experimental suite of components for demonstration in the space environment. This collaboration also provides a platform for graduate research and hands-on education in mission analysis and design, payload hardware and software development, integration and testing and on-orbit experimentation.
 
AFIT, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the Air Force’s graduate school of engineering and management as well as its institution for technical professional continuing education. AFIT is committed to providing defense-focused graduate and professional continuing education and research to sustain the technological supremacy of America’s air, space, and cyber forces.
 
For additional information about graduate or post-doctoral degrees in astronautical engineering or space systems, please visit the CSRA website at https://www.afit.edu/CSRA/ , call 937-255-6565 extension 4753 or email Jaclyn.knapp.ctr@afit.edu.
 

 

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