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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics


The INSPIRESat-1 spacecraft bus. (Courtesy LASP)

Preliminary design work on INSPIRESat-1, the program’s first CubeSat started in late 2016, with funding obtained in 2017. The first INSPIRE mission is a small satellite developed by jointly by LASP and IIST and carrying the Compact Ionosphere Probe (CIP) developed by the National Central University and the National Space Organization (NSPO) of Taiwan.  The IS-1 mission also carries an X-Ray spectrometer from LASP and funded by NASA. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is providing the launch for the satellite. CIP is expected to provide ionospheric measurements, which will advance our understanding of ionosphere dynamics and plasma transport. The Dual Aperture X-Ray Solar Spectrometer (DAXSS) will observe coronal flares. The mission is hence uniquely co-­developed by LASP, IIST and NCU with significant support from NTU Singapore.. The science team is comprised primarily of scientists from CU Boulder, NCU Taiwan, and ISRO.

The concept for the INSPIRESat-­1 mission was  debated and identified during the first annual INSPIRE workshop held in Taipei, Taiwan, in July 2016. The team of international partners considered and examined possible science missions and payloads. After a round of discussions, the Compact Ionosphere Probe from NCU, Taiwan was chosen for the mission because of its technological readiness and compatibility with the CubeSat structure and constraints. The work division among the various participating institutes was decided during brainstorming sessions and the final decision was agreed upon as illustrated in the figure below.

The program has a unique organizational structure with verticals at the three main university partners and principal investigators, program managers and system engineers at each university. Student program managers and systems engineers at each university have weekly meetings and escalate action items to the faculty principal investigators for management decisions and to student subsystem leads for action item resolution.

In 2017, LASP hosted 11 students from three universities (CU Boulder, NCU, and IIST) for an eight‐week summer training program, at the end of which the students had the preliminary design review (a 3U cubesat). In 2018, CU Boulder-­LASP and CU’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences (AES) hosted 17 students from six universities (CU Boulder, NCU, IIST, SQU, NTU, and UoA) for an eight­‐week training program (also a six-credit graduate course in AES) at the end of which the students had critical design review in July 2018. The satellite had changed to an almost 12U satellite with the addition of DAXSS and to be deployed from a ring deployer. By end of summer 2019, the EM integration and testing of the satellite was completed and FM build had started. In May 2020, INSPIRESat-­1 is expected to be shipped to IIST, India for a July 2020 launch.

Integrated IS-1 spacecraft undergoing testing at LASP.