Catapult ‘Nano-Bed' CubeSat Mission Development Facility
The Catapult has a
CubeSat mission development facility comprising a suite of avionics
cards (power board, OBC, communications card) from a typical CubeSat,
laid out on a flat surface (collectively known as a ‘FlatSat’), together
with the necessary support equipment (external power supply, RF
communications equipment, oscilloscope and external control computer),
which, together with the FlatSat and its on-board software are
collectively known as a ‘Nano-bed’. This facility allows CubeSat users,
including payload or instrument providers, subsystem suppliers, detector
suppliers, and on-board software providers, to plug in their device(s)
and or software, to a set of avionics that behaves electrically in
exactly the same way as an actual CubeSat does, so that they can test
its interfaces and performance in a realistic CubeSat environment.
By verifying its performance in this way, they can eliminate almost all
potential interface issues, so that when they encounter the flight
CubeSat, they can be confident that their device(s) can be integrated
with a minimum of difficulty.
The Catapult has five designated
Centres-of-Excellence, two of which also support CubeSat activities:
Strathclyde University and the UK ATC. Both of these Centres have
‘Mission Labs’ with Nano-Bed development facilities, allowing northern
CubeSat users the same benefits.