The Aerospace Enterprise is an undergraduate program where students from all academic programsacross campus work to design and build a satellite that will be launched into space. The spacecraft is developed with funding from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Having placed first in the University Nanosat-6 Competition (UN-6) in 2011, the team is currently working to prepare the Oculus-ASR Nanosatellite for launch in early 2016. Oculus-ASR is slated for launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy out of Cape Canaveral as part of the DoD’s Space Test Program.

The Oculus-ASR program is divided into sub-teams:


The Communications (Comm) Team is responsible for designing the equipment to communicate with the satellite while it is in space. This involves the radio on the spacecraft, the ground station radio in Ann Arbor, and space-based radio arrays. The Comm Team works in tandem the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor to coordinate a communication strategy with the spacecraft. Currently, the Comm Team is conducting hardware and integration testing and is preparing for mission dress rehearsals.

Guidance Navigation & Control

The Guidance, Navigation, and Controls (GNC) Team is responsible for developing the systems that control and determine the attitude of the spacecraft (which way the satellite is pointing and rates of rotation while it is in space). The GNC systems utilizes two sensors to determine attitude: 3-axis gyroscopes to determine rotation rates and a magnetometer that measures the strength of earth’s magnetic field to determine its location in the orbit. The gyroscopes and magnetometer feed into a sophisticated attitude determination and control (ADAC) algorithm that then controls three magnetic torque rods. The three axis “magnetorquers” allow the spacecraft to detumble after being jettisoned from the launch vehicle and allow the ground crew to point the spacecraft in a specific direction for observation by government facilities.

On-Board Data & Command

The On-Board Data and Command (OBDC) Team is responsible for the Computer Hardware and Software on board the Satellite. The main computer (OBDC) relays attitude information from the gyroscopes and magnetometer, temperature information from the thermistors, and other various inputs from sensors on the spacecraft to the ground station for processing.


The Software Team is responsible for writing and testing the code necessary to run each component of the overall system as well as the protocol necessary for the ground crew to successfully control the spacecraft while it is in orbit.


The Power Team is responsible for the power distribution subsystem, the charge controller and the solar panels. The power distribution board delivers power from the batteries to the various components on the spacecraft. Working in tandem with the main computer (OBDC), the power distribution board is also responsible for monitoring the current draw and temperature of the various components on the Satellite. The charge controller regulates the voltage from the solar cells to charge the battery and operate components.


The Structures Team is responsible for, as the name suggests, designing the structures of the spacecraft; this includes the skeleton and the boxes that house all of the components in the spacecraft. The Structures Team not only designs and mills each piece of the spacecraft, but also performs finite element analysis, modal analysis, and thermal analysis on all of the components in order to ensure that the spacecraft can survive the harsh launch vibrations and the in-space thermal environment.

Systems Engineering

The Systems Team is responsible for anything which does not fall directly within the responsibilities of the other teams; this includes a variety of preflight testing such as systems and component integration tests, ground station hardware, and the internal wiring of the spacecraft. The Systems Team also maintains the Aerospace Clean Room and conducts Clean Room and ESD training.