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Desktop satellites are students' final exam

STANFORD -- Students enrolled in a course in introductory spacecraft design will test the "desktop satellites" that they have designed at 2:45 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in front of the Durand Building on campus.

This year, 13 such satellites, which are limited to 20 pounds and $50 in materials, will be dropped three feet onto a concrete floor, whirled overhead in a plastic bucket to generate three g's of force, and subjected to a severe vibration test

After these tests the students must demonstrate that the satellites will operate by remote control. The exact nature of the payload is left to each student's ingenuity and imagination. Last year, for example, one student designed "Dijonsat," which attempted to pass a jar of mustard from one robot arm to another.

The course is part of Stanford's Satellite Systems Development Laboratory. It is the first step in a program in which the students design and manufacture a micro-satellite that will be put into orbit along with a commercial payload.



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