MAXWELL LogoDescription: MAXWELL (Multiple Access-Band Experiment Located in LEO) is a student-led CubeSat team helping pave the way for enhanced RF communications and navigation applications. The University of Colorado Boulder is building the 6U MAXWELL CubeSat as part of the University Nanosatellite Program funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory. MAXWELL is expected to fly by the end of 2023 and will continue nominal and experimental operations into 2024. The mission is to demonstrate and raise the technology readiness level of X-band radio systems compatible with the NASA Near Earth Network.

MAXWELL will be the first CDMA (code division multiple access) demonstration on a SmallSat platform. The system utilizes an advanced radio frequency aperture, a deployable X-Band reflectarray, to increase the data transfer rate achievable.These antennas have not yet been proven on the small satellite platform, but could increase transfer rates in many frequency bands. CDMA is more resilient to noise and/or jamming and could be used during space weather events or when the bit error rate rises too high. MAXWELL will deploy and characterize the gain pattern of MMA Design’s never-before flown T-DaGHR antenna. In addition to its communication objectives, MAXWELL will carry out a Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC) experiment in space, assisting in pioneering possible applications for GPS including orbital positioning. The experiment will compare the CSAC against GPS clocks which will characterize the CSAC drift for comparison against conventional oscillators. The CSAC is expected to be several orders of magnitude more accurate than conventional oscillators offering long-term timing stability.

The MAXWELL student team is designing and building a custom ADCS with heritage from the QB50 Challenger CubeSat. In order to fulfill ADCS requirements, the MAXWELL team has designed a hardware system for the ADCS consisting of the main CPU and supporting architecture (a BeagleBone Black, BBB, computing board), three magnetic torque rods with H-bridges as their drivers, four reaction wheels, sensors and their supporting electronics, including their interfaces to the BBB. This system utilizes a momentum management system with reaction wheels and torque rod actuators that support slewing maneuvers. The system does not include a star tracker, rather utilizing five custom sun sensors that are integrated with a MEMS rate gyro and magnetometer to estimate the attitude state, thereby maintaining a power positive orbit during nominal operations. MAXWELL’s success will provide a springboard for future technological missions deployed on SmallSats.

Sponsor: University Nanosatellite Program - Air Force Research Laboratory

Advisor: Scott Palo

PM: Ashutosh Kalsi

Team Roster: Adhitya Srippenem, Kheld Alnaqbe, Auri Caripa, Joaquin Ramirez, Black Wilson, Alex Fitzgerald

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