Three years ago, a group of Concordia students designed ConSat-1, a satellite designed to study the South Atlantic Anomaly, an area in space that causes strange things to happen to electronic equipment.
Alex Potapovs, the mechanical team leader at Space Concordia, says he didn't know the first thing about space engineering when he started working on ConSat-1.
"We had no formal training in space technology, so everything we had to learn from scratch. We picked up books, checked out books from the library, asked a lot of questions, made contacts in the industry," says Potapovs.
The research paid off. ConSat-1 won the first Canadian Satellite Design Challenge, and the prize was having the team's satellite launched into space.
A new idea
While the team is still bringing its baby up to the European Space Agency's code, some members were inspired to enter the contest once again.
The idea behind the second project is to incorporate into the satellite a self-healing material designed by a Concordia professor.
When the material breaks, microscopic pockets of epoxy are released, sealing the cracks and shielding against damage caused by micro-meteorites.
Mehbi Sabzalin, the project leader for ConSat-2, says the new satellite is going to put the material to the test.
“Nobody has sent this to space yet, so we thought it's really interesting to do this ourselves — to send it in space — and if it actually works, this could be used in future for bigger satellites, or even the next space station,” said Sabzalin.
Getting off the ground
Right now the group is trying to raise funds for ConSat-2
Building ConSat-1 cost more than $50,000. The team is turning to Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding site, hoping to raise the $15,000 for ConSat-2.
"It's going to go to all the stuff that needs money the most, starting with communication, the transceivers," said Sabazlin.
The team say it can now begin the fun part of the project — building the satellite.