Research in Space systems at Surrey is dominated by practical results. Having contributed to the design and launch of 26 spacecraft (2006) SSC has a strong practical perspective in space research. Vaios’s research is mainly focused on 3 areas: (i) attitude control and determination (ii) advanced concepts and (iii) propulsion.
Vaios has developed these small yet powerful actuators for the next generation of agile spacecraft. CMGs are usually complex and expensive and have flown on space stations and military spacecraft. Developments in microelectronics and mechatronics has enabled a new approach towards the design of smaller, affordable and low cost CMGs. Vaios demonstrated the viability of CMGs for small satellites and designed the first commercial small satellite CMGs currently in orbit on the Turkish BILSAT-1 microsatellite. This project was funded by SSTL, ESA and the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TUBITAK). Under funding from ESA Vaios is leading the design of an improved and scalable CMG design for small satellites. Vaios is working closely with Prof. Bong Wie on the development of these CMGs along with various singularity avoidance algorithms.
Solar Sails have become one the ‘hottest topics’ in the space community and specifically in the systems design and attitude control aspects. Solar Sails come with the promise of propelling spacecraft with unprecedented ΔVs without ‘propellant’. Solar Sails work as protons reflect on a large reflector surface. Vaios has been the PI and study manager for a miniature 5 x 5 m micro sail for a study funded by ESA. Micro Solar Sails come with the promise of low cost propellantless systems that do not have the technology challenges of large solar sails (design, dynamics, control, manufacture) and can be used in formations to study niche science objectives such as monitoring the Earth’s geomagnetic tail. On the other spectrum Vaios participated in an ESA funded studied managed by Kayser Threde and dealt with the conceptual design of a 245 x 245 m solar sail called the Interstellar Heliopause Probe (IHP). Surrey was responsible for the small satellite platform design and the overall spacecraft/sail GNC system. Vaios is also working closely together with Prof. Bong Wie on various systems and ACS concepts for Solar Sails.
CEACS comes with the promise of reducing the mass of a spacecraft, which has high power and ACS requirements. Vaios is the PI on a USAF contract which is studying the sizing, design and proof of concept of such technology for small satellites. Further, Vaios with his PhD student David Richie are working on the same research contract for the USAF on studying various control algorithms for a large scale CEACS system developed by the USAF in the Air Force Research Laboratories in Kirkland, NM, USA.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have become important tools for reconnaissance and robotic missions. Vaios is researching systems and algorithms for autonomous systems using a 3-m UAV helicopter. The ‘ICARUS’ vehicle will also be used to demonstrate robust algorithms for terminal descent Mars Lander simulations.
Vaios has worked on the system design and GNC algorithms for Mars landers and ascent vehicles with MSc and PhD students. This research was funded by the ESA Aurora program.
Space engineering despite progress made in low cost design is still and expensive and complex business. A spacecraft simulator based on a 3-axis air bearing is being designed at Surrey. George Prassinos is leading this effort which will include propulsion and CMG modules for agile 3-axis control.
Funded by SSTL this research activity explores the technological shortcomings on developing the next generation of 1-m resolution Earth Observation spacecraft. Based on the known concept of the Dobson telescope Surrey is studying the technology for future use. George Prassinos is currently conducting his MPhil on this subject.
Surrey and Cornell Universities are working together on a research grant by ESA ACT (Ariadna) on formation flying missions using Lorentz and Coulomb charging techniques. Mini Saaj, a research fellow from Surrey is actively working on a hybrid combination of the two techniques under supervision by Vaios and Mason Peck, Assistant Professor, Cornell University.
Propulsion is a key research area at Surrey. Micro-resistojet thrusters have been mastered at Surrey, many of them having flown on UoSAT-12, SNAP and DMC spacecraft. Vaios is supervising two PhD students on electric propulsion: Peter Shaw working on Plasma Pulsed Thrusters and Angelo Grubisic working on micro hollow cathode tubes.
Vaios works closely with Prof. Bong Wie (Arizona State University), Mason Peck (Cornell), Prof. Jozef van der Ha (consultant), Prof. N. Uzunoglou (NTUA), Prof. E. Sarris (Democritus-Thrace) and Jerry Fausz (USAF). Internally Vaios works with all academics in SSC and is assisting Dr. Craig Underwood on the Palmsat program.
Vaios teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the School of Electronics. These include Spacecraft Dynamics and Control (EE3.dyc), Launch Vehicles and Propulsion (EEM.lvp), Satellite Subsystems (EE3.sbs) and Control Engineering (EE3.ctl). Vaios also supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students in topics such as: attitude control, micro UAVs, Mars Lander dynamics and control, solar sail attitude control.
Vaios is currently supervising 3 PhD students: Peter Shaw on PPTs, Angelo Grubisic on micro-HCT, David Richie on CEACS, Alice Darbyshire on CMGs and he also has worked with Sajjad Ashgar (CMGs) and Stephen Wokes (solar sails) who are supervised by Dr. Palmer and Prof. Mark Roberts.
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STRaND-1 is the first in a series of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL)-Surrey Space Centre (SSC) collaborative satellites designed for the purpose of technology path finding for future commercial operations. It is the first time Surrey has entered the CubeSat field and differs from most CubeSats in that it will fly a modern Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Android smartphone as a payload, along with a suite of advanced technologies developed by the University of Surrey, and a payload from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. STRaND- 1 is also different in that anyone (not just from the space engineering or space science community) will be eligible to fly their “app" in space, for free. STRaND-1 is currently being manufactured and tested by volunteers in their own free time, and will be ready for an intended launch in the first quarter of 2012. This paper outlines the STRaND pathfinder programme philosophy which challenges some conventional space engineering practises, and describes the impact of those changes on the satellite development lifecycle. The paper then briefly describes the intent behind the design of STRaND-1, before presenting details on the design of the nanosatellite, focussing of the details of the innovative new technologies. These technologies include two different propulsion systems, an 802.11g WiFi experiment, a new VHF/UHF transceiver unit and a miniature 3-axis reaction wheel assembly. The novel processing setup (which includes the smartphone) is discussed in some detail, particularly the potential for outreach via the open source nature of Google's Android operating system. A stepthrough of the planned concept of operations is provided, which includes a possible rendezvous and inspection objective, demonstrating equal or improved capability compared to SNAP-1 with a reduced total system mass. Finally, data from the test campaign is presented and compared against other notable CubeSats known for their advanced capabilities. Rendered images of STRaND-1 are shown in Fig. I and are discussed later in the paper.
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