The QARMAN CubeSat has been integrated into its deployer at Nanoracks facilities

2019-10-09Next stop: Space! Last week, QARMAN CubeSat was integrated into its deployer at Nanoracks facilities in Houston.

The deployers of QARMAN and co-passagengers will now be integrated into the Dragon spacecraft, for a Falcon9 launch towards the ISS on December 4th. A few weeks later, the deployer will be held in position by the ISS robotic arm, the door will open, and QARMAN will start its journey in orbit! 




QARMAN (Qubesat for Aerothermodynamic Research and Measurements on AblatioN) is the world’s first CubeSat designed to survive atmospheric re-entry. The QARMAN project, a General Support Technology Program (GSTP) funding program of ESA, started in 2013.

The main aim of the QARMAN mission is to demonstrate the usability of a CubeSat platform as an atmospheric entry vehicle. QARMAN has two payloads, which will operate on different time slots of the mission. The main QARMAN payload is the usage of a CubeSat platform as "Atmospheric Entry Demonstrator". Spacecraft descending towards a planet with an atmosphere experience very harsh environment as extreme aerodynamic heating and exothermic chemical reactions occur due to the gas surface interaction at hypersonic free stream velocities. Such vehicles have special shields to survive these harsh conditions as will QARMAN. After the success of the mission, different entry vehicle configurations (for example using different TPS materials) can be tested on board at very low costs for scientific exploration and qualification of future missions in order to provide valuable real flight data.

To collect flight data the challenging physics of atmospheric entry to be investigated are down-selected to make scientifically valuable measurements respecting the constraints of CubeSat platforms. Thermal Protection System (TPS) ablation, efficiency, and environment; attitude stability; rarefied flow conditions; offstagnation temperature evolution and finally aerothermodynamic environment will be measured on QARMAN using COTS spectrometer, photodiode, temperature and pressure sensors. The implementation of an effective TPS that could fit within the external dimensions of a 3U standard CubeSat is one of the challenging parts of this project. It has to manage the thermal environment until ground, by keeping the payload bay at a suitable temperature. The P50 cork has been selected for that purpose.

QARMAN’s mission aims to provide an Earth entry flight data set for a given entry trajectory. This requires an accurate de-orbiting system for QARMAN to reach 7.7 km/s at 120 km altitude. Thus, the second payload of QARMAN is called "Aerodynamic Stability and De- Orbiting System (AeroSDS)". The AeroSDS will demonstrate the feasibility of a passive system providing aerodynamic stability for a CubeSat below 350 km of altitude and provide also stability during re-entry. Four panels (accommodating the solar cells) will be deployed and provide the required stability.

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