Spacecraft Technology Research

The SERC is working on multiple technology areas.  Listed below are the major thrusts and some definitions for each. 

RENDEZVOUS AND PROXIMITY OPERATIONS (RPO) Research (click on link for detailed information on RPO Research)

The SERC is working on several different modalities, techniques and areas that focus on the general area of rendezvous and proximity operations or RPO.  RPO is typically associated with the ability or operation of two (or more) independent space objects that purposefully manuever to within close "proximity" of each other, via various rendezvous techniques.  RPO is critical for any "servicing" mission that are coming on line this year, which may include inspection, repair, refuel, upgrade or assembly activities.  RPO is a wide and robust area of research, which includes sensors, orbital dynamics techniques, processing and data fusion, and hardware for contact and dock.  SERC is exploring multiple arenas within this robust field.  Each are listed below.


The SERC Researchers are also working on additional novel concepts and new technologies for a variety of different applications and research areas.   Some of the other technologies being worked are listed here.

Origami/Kirigami Solar Array Technology:


Multi-Core Processor for Satellite (MAESTRO)

The Maestro Flight Experiment (MFE) demonstrates the operation of a modern, many-core radiation hardened processor (the Maestro ITC) in space. The Maestro Flight Experiment (MFE) is an experimental package that will demonstrate on-orbit operation of the Maestro ITC (Initial Test Chip) 49-core radiation hardened processor. This project is in conjunction with the Information Science Institutes (ISI) Computational Sciences and Technology Division.  The experiment itself is hosted by a DARPA Project through the NovaWurks eXCITe platform with launch expected to take place in mid 2018. The MFE executes diagnostics, performs image processing activities, addresses strategies for dealing with thermal and power constraints in orbit, and assesses the sensitivity of the processor to radiation exposure in low earth orbit. The MFE demonstrates a substantial advance in radiation hardened on-orbit computational performance, which is needed to handle the ever-increasing data load of modern imaging sensors and other orbital sensor systems.  The MFE is based on a Pumpkin, Inc, motherboard and PIC24 processor board. Additional boards host the Maestro ITC processor, its off-chip RAM and flash memory resources, DC-to-DC converters, and other circuitry. The boards are contained in a 1U housing that attaches to the primary spacecraft. Internal aluminum panels provide a thermal path between the MFE's major heat sources (e.g., the Maestro ITC processor and the DC-to-DC converters) and the interface to the satellite.