After successful launches of TechEdSat 5 (2016) and 6 (2017), in 2018, NASA again chose Digi XBee for the TechEdSat 7 launch to collect sensor data including temperature, air pressure, and 3-axis acceleration parameters. The TechEdSat series continues a partnership with San Jose State University, University of Idaho and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA.
One of the big benefits of TechEdSat program has been to evaluate and demonstrate commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to lower costs and accelerate development. Digi XBee continues to stand out as a great example of proven commercial hardware that can tolerate the harsh temperatures, shock, and vibration of launch, orbit and re-entry. Each TechEdSat mission has used Digi XBee for an Exo-Brake system to precisely rotate the satellite and bring it back to earth.
Typically, the sensor devices are connected with wiring, but the team chose to move away from traditional wiring and experiment with a wireless network because less cabling on the spacecraft, reducing the size, weight and power (SWaP) need to accomplish the mission. Another important benefit is the ability to relay this data back down to the command center for analysis.
This wireless network is part of NASA’s effort to test the performance of wireless networks on a spacecraft and determine if the technology is suitable for other applications. Due to the high cost associated with launching a rocket, the team must be extremely conservative when implementing new technology. Digi is proud to be a part of these successful missions, and we look forward to Digi XBee being incorporated into more NASA missions.