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Space Concordia takes off to Israel

by Gregory Todaro October 13, 2015

Members presenting at International Astronautical Conference

Three Concordia students lifted off Friday afternoon—but on a plane instead of a rocket. While their destination is not as “out of this world” as space, the Space Concordia members are representing the organization at the 66th International Astronautical Conference in Jerusalem.

Concordia mechanical engineering students Neil Woodcock, Prakul Mittal and Nicholas Velenosi, will be giving presentations at what organizers say is the biggest space conference in the world. Two  students submitted abstracts about research or projects they took part in—and both abstracts were accepted and the three were asked to present the work. Woodcock, who is also president of Space Concordia, said he and Mittal submitted a paper on design simulations and analysis of carbon-fibre composite and aluminium honeycomb rocket fins.

“[Wings or fins] will start bending a bit as the airspeed increases, so they’ll have a bit of a vibration,” said Woodcock. “But instead of the vibration kind of dying down, because there’s air flowing over it, it’ll start to increase until it’ll just break off. It happens very quickly.”

Meanwhile, Velenosi will be discussing Space Concordia’s open-source mechanical design standard for CubeSats—small, modular satellites generally used by educational institutions and small companies for research. That paper was written by five students who did their capstone project on the subject. Woodcock said getting test data for CubeSats is very difficult and having a standard, open-source design will allow others to use data and research that’s already been done, making it easier to try and calculate aspects of thermal effects and vibrations.

This is the second year members of Space Concordia will attend the IAC—last year’s conference was hosted in Toronto. Velenosi went to that event, but this is Woodcock and Mittal’s first time.

The IAC gives the Space Concordia members a chance to network with industry leaders and learn from a variety of experts, said Woodcock. “Airbus is doing a workshop on electric and hybrid propulsion, so they’re going to be talking about ion drives and plasma thrusters for use in satellites,” he said. “Also, there’s a breakfast that’s attended by the director of the European Space Agency and the deputy-administrator of NASA.” There are also countless presentations, workshops and exhibitions for those attending.

Woodcock said he hopes more members of Space Concordia get the opportunity to submit papers and present at the IAC. “This is an extremely good conference,” he said. “We really think that the more research we can submit to the conference, the better it would reflect on Space Concordia and engineering in the school in general.”

Woodcock said he also hopes he gets a chance to meet famous American astronaut Buzz Aldrin who will be attending the IAC. “We’re hoping we can get his autograph because he kind of snubbed us when we went to the International Space Development Conference [this year], he said he didn’t have the time,” Woodcock said, adding that he’d like to add a signed photo of Aldrin to Space Concordia’s wall of fame.

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