News about the Canadian CubeSat Project

Students participating in the Canadian CubeSat Project. (Photo taken in , prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.) (Credit: CSA)

The Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP) is providing professors in post-secondary institutions with an opportunity to engage their students in a real space mission by having them design and build their own miniature satellite.

Since the CCP began in , the teams have been making good progress with their projects. However, the global pandemic has slowed operations down somewhat, and has forced the teams to become even more resourceful. This unusual situation is actually good preparation for them to work in the space sector, where it's often necessary to adapt quickly to new constraints and find solutions to difficulties or unforeseen problems.

Visit this page for all the latest news about the teams, the new challenges they're tackling, the steps taken to date and those to come.

News from the ESSENCE team (York University)

Credit: Team Essence (picture taken pre-pandemic)

York University's ESSENCE team is hard at work on its CubeSat, despite the challenges of the last year. The students on the team are also preparing for the critical design review, which, as the name suggests, is held at a critical point in the process to give the team the last go/no-go before production. With this impressive workload, they still took the time to answer our questions.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health measures in your area affected your work?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on our project. We lost access to our ground station, the labs, and the testing facilities over the entire summer. We are still unable to access them.

Has the situation changed the way you work as a team? Did your team develop coping mechanisms or new processes as a result?

Team meetings are now fully online, which means that we are able to meet more frequently for shorter periods of time. We also started to conduct meetings just for team leads. Those helped us keep everyone on the same page about each subsystem's progress and became an opportunity for us to share resources, support each other, and help lead our team members. Some of our team leads have also organized "online office hours," which is an amazing way to support our team members and answer their questions.

Are you planning on keeping those measures in place even if the situation comes back to normal?

We will definitely continue to host general online meetings and the team-leads' meetings, as those have increased our efficiency and helped us keep each other on track during these isolating times.

Could you identify one positive change/impact on your team brought by this new situation?

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to have more flexible meeting times and has given us time to work on our social media outreach.

How is your CubeSat project going right now?

Good. Currently, we are focusing on getting the critical design review documentation ready. The extra time given to prepare has been very helpful to our team.

News from the RADSAT-SK team (University of Saskatchewan)

Credit: RADSAT-SK team

The RADSAT-SK team is still working on its space technology project. Despite their heavy course loads, the students on the team are preparing for the critical review of the design phase. Addi Amaya answered our questions.

Can you describe the impact of the COVID-19 situation on your project?

When the pandemic hit there was not much progress in terms of our project. Just like the rest of the world, the team was at a standstill. During the spring and summer everything was slow, and only a handful of students were keeping the high-level aspects of the project going. During July/August, the RADSAT-SK team was determined to not allow COVID-19 to prevent students from joining the project. The recruitment team continued their work by preparing slides and getting the message out there through online class lectures and social media. After all the RADSAT-SK did to prepare for the term, the outcome was very successful.

Has the situation changed the way you work as a team? Did your team develop coping mechanisms or new processes as a result?

The RADSAT-SK team used a virtual communication platform before COVID-19, and it has proved useful during the pandemic. As the team had to adapt to an online environment only, we adopted more communication platforms to discuss aspects of the project and work in small groups. These meetings tend to have higher turnouts than physical meetings.

Could you identify one positive change/impact on your team brought by this new situation?

Because the campus was shut down for the general population, a lot of residents who do not live in Saskatchewan went home. The methods of communication allowed those students to still be involved even if they are far away.

Did your team come up with ideas/initiatives to help the community facing the COVID-19 situation?

The RADSAT-SK plans on hosting virtual outreach presentations for grades 1 to 8 to continue inspiring youth about aerospace design, even during the pandemic. Even though everything is online, the RADSAT-SK is still an ambitious group of students willing to put in the work to complete Saskatchewan's first CubeSat.

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