Future aerospace leaders simulate space mission at UNSW Canberra

| 18 Jul 2018

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UNSW Canberra’s space mission design facility is an Australian first. It’s the only place in the country where a space mission can be developed in its entirety from start to finish.

When future aerospace leaders were offered the opportunity to get some hands-on experience with the Australian National Concurrent Design Facility (ANCDF), they jumped at the chance.

“Having such initiatives in Australia shows the country’s step forward when it comes to entering the space sector,” Queensland mechanical and aerospace engineering student Clint Therakam says.

Fifteen applicants, all university students or young professionals, were selected for the workshop at UNSW Canberra Space.

Each participant was assigned an individual job to simulate a real mission design experience.

The mission, a fictitious assignment for the Australian tourism industry, explored the commercial elements of the space sector. Participants were required to work together on the 24-satellite mission tasked with creating a timelapse video of Australia.

Budget, schedule and technical feasibility all had to be considered. 

Mr Therakam was assigned the role of launcher. He had to find a feasible way to transport the satellites to orbit.

“The ANCDF mission simulates a real-world scenario in a space facility of the calibre seen in Europe,” Mr Therakam said.

“I think this collaboration with all the students worked really well. The facility is really effective in synthesising all the information and delivering it quickly.

“It was challenging because we had 15 different professionals with different roles and that makes it quite complicated because when there’s a problem changing one variable it actually impacts a lot of members, as a result it becomes a multidimensional problem.”

UNSW Canberra engineer and workshop mentor Jan-Christian Meyer says the participants stepped up to the challenge.

“It was the first time that we did it so we weren’t sure if we’d be able to do what we wanted to do in four hours, but in the end, we achieved those goals and we were really happy to give this opportunity to the students as well.

“I hope they were able to see what modern systems engineering could look like.”

The workshop was part of this year’s Aerospace Futures Conference, hosted by UNSW Canberra and run by the Australian Youth Aerospace Association.

The conference assists students and young professionals interested in a career in aerospace to learn about the industry with speakers from Defence, government and academia.

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