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McMaster students selected for national design challengeJanuary 16, 2019

A team comprised of students from Engineering, Commerce and Science at McMaster have been selected for the 2018-2019 Canadian Reduced Gravity Experiment (CAN-RGX) Design Challenge.

Would you take your car to the scrapyard every time you ran out of gas?

This wasteful practice is the equivelant of what happens when satellites in orbit run out of fuel. A team comprised of students from Engineering, Commerce and Science at McMaster have been selected for the 2018-2019 Canadian Reduced Gravity Experiment (CAN-RGX) Design Challenge organized by SEDS-Canada, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Canadian Space Agency to try and find a better solution.

The McMaster Experimental Reduced Gravity (MERGE) Team, led by Michael Stramenga, will be studying the effects of sloshing during satellite refueling and developing a slat-screen system to dampen and evenly disperse incoming fluid to minimize instabilities in the satellite.

"Our team is very excited to represent McMaster University at this national design challenge," says Stramenga. "All of our team members share a common interest in space exploration and are very excited at the prospect of being able to contribute to this field through the development of our experiment."

MERGE will be designing, building, testing and operating their experiment in a weightless environment meant to replicate the same conditions experienced by orbiting satellites.

“When satellites in orbit run out of fuel, they are often decommissioned despite all onboard systems still functioning normally,” says Stramenga.

Stramenga adds that in recent years, the space sector has looked at ways of refueling satellites in orbit to improve their overall mission lifetime and reduce the amount space junk being produced.

“The experiment we are developing will attempt to study and better understand the behavior of fuel as it is transferred from one satellite to another in orbit. Specifically, we will be looking at how fluid behaves when pumped into an empty satellite fuel tank and possible methods for controlling this flow.”

Once the competing teams finalize their designs, they will have six weeks to build their experiments which will be integrated into NRC’s Falcon 20 aircraft before the Flight Campaign scheduled for July 2019.

 

Photo from left to right: Adam Tweedle (Faculty of Science IV), Michael Stramenga (Faculty of Engineering IV), Elizabeth Sharpley (Faculty of Commerce III), Gregory Lech (Faculty of Engineering IV), Gabriella Wynn (Faculty of Science IV) and Jarod Coppens (Faculty of Science IV)