Thursday, 17 December 2009

Project lead reflects on 2009 progress

Lunchsat project lead Nick Fishwick has today issued a statement to his team, reflecting progress made in the project throughout 2009.

In an email to all 43 members of the Lunchsat team, Nick gave his congratulations and 'thanks for all the hard work over the last few months'.

"The project is coming along well with real results, such as Systems producing an updated release of the Payload Interface Document which will be critical for getting new payloads and all subsystems have made good advances. On the hardware side, we have power tests ready to go and work planned on both groundstations.

"Due to the feedback from last year, we are communicating better with experts inside and outside the company (such as the Bepi Project Manager, AMSAT, Queen Mary Uni) and the blog is going and we are being tweeted about by Clyde Space [a large Cubesat company in Scotland].

"There have been some setbacks but that is normal for any programme no matter the size and so we should take this as an opportunity to show that we can overcome and solve such problems. We have a plan in place to solve the OBC power-up issue and this will be the highest priority in the New Year."

Visit the Lunchsat website news archives for more Project Management team communications.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Latest from the Project Management focus team

The Lunchsat Project Management focus team recently issued its latest actions to scope upcoming work packages for the subsystems and classify activities from current progress to the 2012 launch.

Subsystem leads are to supervise the extension of subsystem work package descriptions for completion by February; descriptions for each are to be released on our website pages to assist in the definition of each subsystem.

Those involved are Nick Fishwick (Project Management and Power), Stephen Pulker (On-Board Computer and Imager), Natasha Pushkin (Thermal and ADCS), Alex Buick (Operations and Payload), Jason Stones (Media and Communications), Fatou Mbaye (Systems and Mechanical) and Nicolas Sarda (Groundstations).

The focus team also arrived at a complete schedule that defines Lunchsat activity from present to the future launch. Three work packages are to be defined per subsystem for assignment to each of the three Lunchsat phases that have since been defined (1-3); these are detailed in turn (A-E):

Phase 1: Design and Analysis, October 2009 to September 2010
Phase 2: Testing and Pre-Launch, October 2010 to December 2011
Phase 3: Launch and Operations, 2012

Phase A: Detailed Definition, Manufacturing and Testing (GDP Year 1), October 2009 to August 2010
Phase B: Detailed Definition, Manufacturing and Testing (GDP Year 2), October 2010 to June 2011
Phase C: System Level Integration and Testing, July to December 2011
Phase D: Pre-Launch Activities and Launch, January to June 2012
Phase E: In-Orbit Commissioning and Operations, July to December 2012

The Lunchsat website now features details of our complete schedule.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Operations and launch: two giant leaps for Lunchsat

In having commissioned a new Operations subsystem to handle the management of post-launch attitude and maintenance of our nanosatellite, the next step in getting Lunchsat into space is to prepare it for launch readiness!

Representatives from the new Operations subsystem and key subsystem leads met this morning in a videoconference between Astrium's Stevenage and Portsmouth sites to discuss the next major stage in the Lunchsat project – launch. Present at the meeting were Alex Buick (Operations), Fatou Mbaye (Systems), Jason Stones (Media), Stephen Pulker (Project Management, OBC) and Natasha Pushkin (Thermal), alongside project manager Nick Fishwick and project champion Ronan Wall.

Over the next month, this team will compile a comprehensive report to present to Astrium management, detailing the options available in four possible launch scenarios. As such, the report is to address the available launchers and options for the Lunchsat payload, forecasted schedules, prospective team involvement and the budget allocations required to support each option. These areas are to be defined in the four separate scenarios foreseeing launch within one year; three years with Pathfinder; three years without Pathfinder; and five years, respectively. 'Not launching is not an option', emphasised project lead Nick Fishwick.

It is currently envisaged for Lunchsat to become flight-ready sometime in 2011 post-testing, in order to piggyback on a ride with the Lisa Pathfinder when the space science mission is launched into space on an Ariane 5 rocket in 2012. This is deemed a strong possibility – particularly given both the financial infeasibility to use a dedicated launcher, and the potential compatibility of the Pathfinder launch window with Lunchsat as a Cubesat, as the payloads of previously launched Cubesats have taken between 9 months and two years to build.

The Operations focus group aims to compare the parameters of our Lunchsat mission with those of others – Aeolus, KaSAT, Astra 1M, Hylas and ExoMars – by liaising with their project managers to assess the true logistics of launch.

Additionally, the report aims to assess the prospective advantageous outputs from Lunchsat once the nanosatellite is launched. These include strengthened public relations through enhanced visibility between Astrium and the wider community, the establishment of Operations training to maintain the satellite in orbit, lessons learned from our first attempt and accelerated technology development in collaboration with our partners in the wider Cubesat Research Network (CRN), if work begins on a second Lunchsat nanosatellite in the longer-term.

As part of Operations requirements, we have entered the process of researching possible worldwide launch sites and configuration scenarios. As Lunchsat will be launched into equatorial orbit, feasible spaceports include Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida (NASA), Guyana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guyana (ESA), Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (RKA) and the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at Tanegashima, Japan (JAXA), among others.

A review of cost assessment and related contacts for launch scenarios at each of these sites will be included in the Lunchsat Launch Report, to be released in the New Year.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

All-new lineup announced for 2010

It is with great pleasure (and relief!) that the current Lunchsat team is able to welcome its new members – each of which are taking the proud commitment to join our project as we rocket into 2010 with challenging ambitions.

The new graduates have been individually selected to join the unique Graduate Development Programme (GDP) and Direct Entry Graduate (DEG) schemes of EADS Astrium, both serving as the next logical step from university as they allow the graduates to develop their skills over a two-year period.

DEGs can gain valuable contacts and accelerated experience over the two years in a single department. The GDP enables graduates to gain a wider portfolio of skills and experience as they are encouraged to partake in a minimum of four six-month rotational placements, to fully understand and appreciate the Astrium business in Stevenage, Portsmouth and continental Europe.

Each new Astrium graduate that has chosen Lunchsat as their auxiliary project will be bringing their own experiences, qualities and talents to the initiative, with this year's intake representing backgrounds from both technology and business in equal measure. They join the current members of the team at an exciting turning point for the project, as we start looking forward to an imminent launch and in doing so, commission a new Operations subsystem in readiness to handle post-launch attitude and maintenance of the Lunchsat nanosatellite in space.

Select project members from the previous 2008-09 year are set to become the new technical experts and subsystem leads as they assume advisory roles for the new graduates.

The all-new lineup for 2009-10 sees Matthew Ashworth (Portsmouth Groundstation), Alex Buick (Operations), Billy Chan (Payload: Imager), Martin Discors (Payload: Imager), Perry Hinneh (Mechanical), Goodwell Kapfunde (Stevenage Groundstation), Christopher Lord (ADCS), Daniel Ludlow (Communications), Fatou Mbaye (Systems), Timothy Mead (Power), Ian Miles (OBC), Stephen Pulker (Project Management, OBC), Natasha Pushkin (Thermal), Nicolas Sarda (Stevenage Groundstation), Mauricio Molas Serrano (Portsmouth Groundstation), Thomas Stuttard (Systems, Power), Andrew White (Communications) and Benjamin Yarwood (Mechanical) join the team.

They join golden oldies and those dedicated few continuing their roles from last year: Nicholas Carter (ADCS), Martin Garland (Payload: Imager), Stephen Jones (Portsmouth Groundstation), Edward Nelson (Thermal), Gurmeet Singh Pawar (Power), Julia Ryan (Mechanical), Jason Stones (Media) and Jonathan Wynn (Payload: Imager), headed up by project lead Nick Fishwick and overseen by project champion, Ronan Wall.

You can keep up-to-date with this year's exciting Lunchsat developments on this blog and on our website at Stay tuned and follow our ambitions as we move forward into 2010 and evolve our nanosatellite project from a hobbyist lunchtime activity to a launch-ready payload!

Lunchsat is a unique graduate initiative of EADS Astrium – a mission to build a cube nanosatellite that carries the minimum of what is needed to fly and operate in space. Find out more about Lunchsat and the new team for 2010; space company EADS Astrium and its graduate entry programmes.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Management Review to conclude Lunchsat for 2008-09

The annual Management Review, an opportunity for Lunchsat members to present their progress made on the project over the past year to line and senior managers, begins tomorrow morning at Astrium in Stevenage.

This is to follow the successful Technical Review held on Wednesday, when the team was given the chance to discuss the work achieved to-date with technical experts with prior experience on cubesat projects.

The Management Review is to kick off with a team photo at 10:00 in the Viewing Gallery, followed by refreshments and talks with the managers. The presentation is to begin at 11:00, with an introduction from project member Neil Dunbar followed by subsystem talks from Nick Fishwick (Project Management), Jonathan Wynn (Payload: Imager; Media), Jacques Cottier (Systems) and Gurmeet Pawar (Power).

Questions from management will conclude the review session at midday - when the team will move onto Ask in Stevenage for lunch to celebrate the conclusion of the Lunchsat project for 2008-09.

The next intake of Astrium graduates is scheduled for late September, when the new arrivals will select one of the two unique initiatives of the graduate development programme - Campus Management, or Lunchsat.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Technical Review starts today

The traditional end-of-year Lunchsat technical review is to begin today, Wednesday 19 August, at 13:00.

An important part of the project, the Technical Review concludes Lunchsat activities for the year, with activity resuming in October as the next intake of graduates join Astrium and choose to participate in the project.

The review will be an opportunity for subsystem leads to present the work achieved this year, focusing on the progress of actions agreed as a result of the previous major milestone, the Mid-Year Review.

Technical experts will be on-hand at the review session, to observe the progress made and offer their own expertise to drive the project forward. As a result of collaboration and advice given by the experts, objectives for the 2009-2010 Lunchsat year will be agreed as the primary output from the review.

Reporting on subsystem progress today will be Graham Johnson (Systems), Jonathan Wynn (Payload: Imager), Roisin Speight (Mechanical), Nicholas Carter (AOCS), Aude Brunner (Thermal), Gurmeet Pawar and Frederic Bard (Power), Fabian Frost (OBC), Thomas Dunklin (Stevenage Groundstation) and Nick Fishwick (Project Management).

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

New website for Lunchsat launches soon

A new website for Lunchsat is on the launch pad!

Lunchsat combines a graduate training initiative with a microsatellite project, allowing participants in the Graduate Development Programme of EADS Astrium to gain an early knowledge of how satellites are developed.

Appreciation of the development of a whole satellite project is possible due to the scaled down development associated with a microsatellite compared to a standard project in terms of reduced size, lower costs and overhead.

Lunchsat has been active for several years and is based on the design of the recently successful Canadian CanX-2 microsatellite. Work on the project is split into several ‘subsystems’, each addressing a separate area of expertise associated with the satellite. Work can be undertaken on one or several of these, enabling knowledge building and experience across a number of disciplines.

The Media subsystem addresses the reporting of progress on the Lunchsat project to its participants and a wider audience. From 2008, it has been agreed to develop a new website and overhaul an existing blog. It is hoped that transparency between these elements, combined with the introduction of a wiki system, will provide a greater insight into the project for the benefit of other functional units within EADS Astrium and indeed, those interested from outside our organisation.

The address to bookmark for the new site is

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Keith Mason discovers Lunchsat

The Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Keith Mason, recently visited Astrium in Portsmouth.

During the visit he had a tour of the manufacturing facilities and met with current apprentices and graduates – including Jason Stones (Media) of Lunchsat, who explained CubeSat to the visitor.

The Cubesat Research Network (CRN) is a collaboration of space industry and academia, brought together to focus on innovation for market exploitation, bringing associated technologies to market, transferring knowledge to universities in Cubesat build projects as part of educational programmes, providing schools outreach to boost a knowledge-based economy, and the provision of a 'playground for innovation' - where concepts can be tested in space as part of a Cubesat payload. The CRN represents the conversion of industry experts such as Astrium, universities, and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

An independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), STFC funds around 40% of the UK civil space activities covering the mandatory science programme and exploration.