CECIL, 1U Amateur Radio CubeSat; On the Dangers, Implications, and Future of Low Earth Orbit Pollution

Broome, David, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Goyne, Chris, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia

The technical component of this thesis is the completion of a design phase of an amateur radio enabled satellite called a CubeSat. This satellite was conceptualized and planned alongside a team of aerospace engineering undergrads at the University of Virginia organized by Chris Goyne, professor of the UVA spacecraft design course. The goal of the project was to work alongside a team of fellow engineers to create the design and layout for a satellite set to be fabricated and launched by February of 2021. From scratch, the satellite’s main objectives, components, dimensions, and logistics of construction and launch were worked out with management and budget concerns being considered concurrently. The goal of the satellite is to provide capabilities for radio communication between the spacecraft and amateur radio users in various positions on Earth, as well as to enable communication between the satellite and UVA engineering students at the university’s ground station. The project served also to provide the team of undergraduate engineers vital experience with the design of a large scale, complex spacecraft.

The research component of this thesis was the completion of a paper outlining the dangers that low Earth orbit (LEO) pollution poses to current and future satellites. Within the paper, the societal implications and risks associated with this problem are also heavily discussed. Specifically, the paper seeks to answer the question: What are the societal dangers brought about by the threat of low earth orbit pollution on satellites? In order to answer this question, documentary research and analysis of articles produced by news outlets and government-run space agencies was performed to establish clearly what the real risks of LEO pollution are towards satellites. Further documentary research and analysis was performed on news and scientific articles to outline the importance of satellite technology to the world as well, thus creating a bridge for the reader to see how LEO pollution is a direct risk to society. Meanwhile, Actor Network Theory (ANT) was employed to establish a framework of the numerous players involved in the complex network of LEO pollution. The paper aims to find the issues
perpetuating LEO pollution, and looks to expose areas within the network of the problem that can be improved and altered in the future in order to protect our satellites and the future of our society.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Actor Network Theory, Low Earth Orbit Pollution, CubeSat, Satellites

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Technical Advisor: Chris Goyne
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Sean Bergmann, Henry Blalock, Joshua Choe, Nathaniel Craft, Eva Femia, Ari Goldman, Martin Keuchkerian, Gabriel Norris, Andrew Oxford, Jack Shea, Isabella Todaro, Zach Wilson, Monica Wuhrer

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