Student-built CubeSats to rendezvous in space

In the future, mass transportation will almost certainly involve self-driving vehicles. The aerospace industry is pushing that idea even further, all the way to space, but the results for autonomous small spacecraft have been mixed.

Now, a Cornell Space Systems Design Studio project that demonstrates the technology’s potential is poised to take flight aboard a VOX Space rocket, with the help of the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program.

The Pathfinder for Autonomous Navigation (PAN) project, led by Mason Peck, the Stephen J. Fujikawa ’77 Professor of Astronautical Engineering in the College of Engineering, is preparing to launch a pair of small, low-cost, modular satellites, known as CubeSats, into space. Once deployed in low Earth orbit, the two CubeSats will drift apart by up to 30 kilometers and then, using custom software, locate each other’s position, fire their thrusters and dock together.

Read the full Cornell Chronicle story.

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