Altium , the Sydney-based EDA vendor, is sponsoring a “picosatellite” mission conducted by the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS). Known as Canadian Advanced Nanospace eXperiments (CanX), the program is an initiative in which students build, test, launch, and operate real picosatellites (satellites with a mass of less than 1kg) in order to evaluate miniaturised technologies in the harsh environment of space. The program, the first of its kind in Canada, will launch its first mission in early 2003.
Students will be using Altium’s Protel board-level design software to design custom computer boards for the picosatellites and Altium’s Tasking embedded software development tools to program the computer boards so that they can perform various tasks in space – such as helping to take pictures and controlling the orientation of the satellites.
The students and staff of UTIAS have found the Altium software advantageous in the work so far. “Protel mirrors the thought sequence of the typical board designer,” says Daniel Foisy, a computer engineer at UTIAS. “By providing schematic capture and PCB board design all in one program, along with a powerful synchronisation tool to communicate changes between the two, Protel provides a superior package.”
Dr Robert Zee, manager of the Space Flight Laboratory at UTIAS said he was pleased that Altium was willing to champion innovation. “We approached Altium because we knew their tools were powerful, easy to use, and able to yield high-fidelity professional designs,” he added.
“It is important to encourage programs such as this that provide unique and valuable practical training experience for students,” noted Nick Martin, joint-CEO and founder of Altium. “[Projects like this] lead the way with cutting-edge technologies for industry.”