August 15, 2018 Update
It’s about half way through the summer, and I must say that our two interns, Jack and Phil, are doing a fantastic job. We're so happy to have their assistance.
Jack immediately started work on the laser transmitter, and has already finished designing and building the optical test board. Here’s a picture of co-founder Sean and Jack doing some initial testing of the transmitter board mounted to an optical rail.
The transmitter test board is being tested with a low power green laser diode, the type used in a laser pointer. The laser power is low enough (less than 1 milliwatt) to be safe, but just in case, Sean is using his laser safety goggles. We’ve decided not to do any testing with the invisible infrared laser diode until after the interns have left at the end of summer. Testing with the infrared laser will require special safety precautions, and it will be easier if we limit the number of people in our work area.
The laser transmitter circuit is working well, running with a 200 megahertz clock, and it’s able to switch 100 milliamps of current in a nanosecond or so. Jack is making one more revision of the board, to verify that it can switch at least a full ampere for full speed operation.
And he is almost finished with the laser receiver test board design, so we may be able to test both the transmitter and receiver working together in a few more weeks.
In the meantime, Phil has been hard at work at the mechanical design of the spacecraft. He has analyzed the structure for mechanical strength and thermal stability. He now has a reasonably complete CAD model of the complete spacecraft and the optical, electronic, and mechanical components. The length, width, and depth of each part is accurate to a fraction of a millimeter. Here’s a cutaway view of the preliminary design:
There will be some additional changes because we are still waiting for our optics partner to provide the exact mirror sizes.
After all this work, Sean and Phil attended the Small Sat Conference at Logan, Utah to work out some details with our vendors for solar panels, actuators, momentum wheels, radios, and other components. And here they are at the Rocket Labs booth, checking out some of the different ways we can get our satellites into orbit.
We’ll update you again at the end of September, after our interns have returned to school.