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Stanford Student Space Initiative (SSI)

Stanford University

  • SSI Project

  • Harwin Involvement

  • 2017 Status

The Student Space Initiative (SSI) is Stanford’s largest project based student-run organization. There are more than 100 members who work on six different project teams: Rockets, Balloons, Satellites, Biology, Operations and Policy. The organization is a gathering place for students who want to act on their interest in space.

SSI’s achievements

Since 2013, the project groups have achieved an impressive list of successes:

  • Flown a zero gravity experiment with NASA
  • Built multiple CubeSats
  • Inspired 60 teams in 20 countries to launch high altitude balloons
  • Certified dozens of students for high-powered rocketry
  • Hosted more than 100 speakers at talks and conferences
  • Featured in media like Popular Science and USA Today
  • Led a student-initiated class (AA47SI, Why Go to Space)
  • Demonstrated laser communication
  • Developed ultra-long duration latex balloon technology that has set a world record.

Future Goals

SSI is dedicated to achieving a number of both short- and long-term goals:

  • Launch a new biology team
  • Fly a high-altitude balloon in Europe
  • Build a small optical communication satellite
  • Send the first university built rocket to space
  • Continue development of novel satellite technologies
  • Demonstrate DNA synthesis in microgravity
  • Continue to organize speaker events and workshops for the student body with top industry leaders

The Rockets team has designed Harwin’s high-reliability connectors into their 2016-2017 rocket project. Recognizing that in order to achieve their goal of sending the first university-built rocket into space they will need rugged, high performing connectors.

This year the Rockets division will be competing in the Spaceport America Cup. This is a competition where universities design and build sounding rockets and compete to be as precise as possible on the maximum altitude that the rocket will reach. Harwin’s Datamate and M300 product lines have been designed into the most critical aspects of the rocket.

In coming years, SSI plans to use Harwin Connectors on satellites projects, more rocket projects, and their high altitude balloon projects.

July 2017: SUCCESS!

SSI Rockets embarked on the long journey to New Mexico, to compete in the first inaugural Spaceport America Cup, one of the world’s largest rocketry competitions, with over a hundred teams from five continents. Launch preparation was carried out in 118F heat and occassional 25mph winds. But the SSI Rockets team was one of the first to be ready to launch, with the rocket named ‘Heart of Steel’.

This launch was officially SSI’s fastest and highest launch, getting within 1.5% of the altitude target of 30,000 feet, reaching a final maximum velocity of 1.8 times the speed of sound and enduring, at one point during recovery, over a hundred gravities of acceleration. Although the rocket suffered an imperfect recovery and the payload – a novel telemetry system which does not require a ground station – failed to deploy, the launch overall was one of the most successful in the competition.

The team was placed first in Altitute and Motor categories, with a score nearly 50% higher than the next team.

Thanks to Harwin

Harwin has been essential to the design of flight critical avionics for IREC this year. SSI Rockets used Harwin connections for both wire-to-board and board-to-board connections that were critical to the rocket’s safe operation. Harwin connectors were used to connect the batteries to the altimeters, and to connect the altimeters to electric matches that deploy the main and drogue parachutes. In addition, Harwin connectors were used to connect the GPS module to the flight computer, used for tracking and finding the rocket after landing.

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