YukonU CubeSat is a student lead initiative with the Canadian Space Agency that is now in its final phase – launch and deployment. CubeSat has been in development since 2018 by a team of Yukon students in partnership with teams at Aurora College (AuroraSat) and the University of Alberta (Ex-Alta 2), together forming the Northern SPIRIT Consortium. Early in the project, teams workshopped ideas for the satellite payload (what the satellite will be equipped to do), and then worked to develop those payloads and the CubeSat ‘buses’ that will carry them. Students gained experience working as a team through the engineering design process.
YukonSat is scheduled to be transported to the International Space Station in March 2023, for deployment from the station in May. Once deployed, the satellite will have two interactive features. The first is a robotic arm with a camera capable of photographing the satellite, the Earth, and other celestial objects within view of the satellite. As part of this payload a small LED screen is to be mounted to the fuselage of the spacecraft in view of the camera. Photographs and artwork contributed by Northerners as part of the mission’s outreach and education mission will be displayed in space and the camera on the robotic arm will take a photo of the displayed screen image with the backdrop of space and send it back down to us earthlings.
The second feature is a radio broadcast of short audio clips of Northerners sharing stories, experiences, or interesting facts about the North. The radio signal will be receivable in Canada’s south and various other places across the globe with equipment commonly used by amateur radio enthusiasts able to receive the broadcast bands. The recordings will also be available to hear on the YukonU project website. Audio clips will be 60-90 seconds each, with three or four uploaded for broadcast at a time, and the uploads will be changed throughout the projected 18-month operation of the satellite.
Current mission status: YukonU is gathering and editing audio clips from various contributors for upload once the CubeSat is operational in orbit. Team members from the Northern Spirit Consortium will present some space-themed sessions with the Youth Moving Mountains camps held at YukonU’s Ayamdigut campus this summer and may continue with STEM camps or classroom visits in the fall.
Rachel Pugh, Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Patrick Gall, Engineering and technology project technician, Aurora Research Institute
Holly Faye Lutkehaus, outreach student assistant