Engineering students hit new heights in Belgium

Engineering students from the University of Brighton have been learning valuable skills at the European Space Agency Academy’s Training and Learning Facilities in Belgium. 

The five students, who are studying either Aeronautical or Mechanical Engineering masters degrees, spent four days at ESEC-Galaxia in Redu, Belgium, in preparation to test their cutting-edge technology in zero-gravity in Bordeaux, France in the Autumn.

During their time in Belgium, the students – whose project team name is PHP Cubed – have gained insights from industry experts and taken part in space-based activities including walking on the surface of the ‘moon’ via a virtual reality headset.

The experience enabled the team members to develop skills including project management, system engineering principles and space science.

PHP Cubed (Liam Ardagh, Georgie Crewdson, Tom Critchley, Mateo Pontecorvo and Alex Evans) are one of just two teams in Europe that will sample their technology in zero-gravity via NoveSpace’s parabolic flight platform as part of the European Space Agency’s educational Fly Your Thesis! programme.

Of their experience at ESEC-Galaxia, team member Liam Ardagh said: “Time at the ESA training academy in Redu has provided us with invaluable information essential to the progression of our project. 

“Interacting with experts from not only the European Space Agency but also from NoveSpace has been an amazing experience. Now we look forward to the flights.”

PHP Cubed’s project will test a novel passive heat management system, scaled down for a nanosatellite application.

If successful, this system allows sensitive components to be cooled and temperatures to be managed without the need for a power supply or moving parts – a crucial factor in keeping down weight and size in nanosatellites that can weight as little as one kilogram.

Georgie Crewdson said: “This project has huge scientific potential, and the data we collect may change the way we design nanosatellites and contribute to the innovation of space tech design.

“Our experiment will also provide a legacy for future students to build upon and innovate even further.”

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