Satellite Payloads


Model of space junk around earth.

‘Space junk’ is a growing problem as more and more space launches are occurring and more and more objects are becoming stuck in orbit around earth. These objects include rocket stages that have been expelled and discarded into space, fragments of debris from meteorites or past space ship and old satellites that have become deactivated.

The space junk is a big issue because it makes it very difficult and expensive to launch satellites, rovers or spaceships. In order to combat this ever growing field of junk, Orbit is researching and testing a device that will deorbit a satellite. This balloon like payload will expand in orbit when the satellite’s mission is complete. The balloon will create more drag causing the satellite to lose altitude faster and ultimately burn out in the upper atmosphere eliminating itself from the mass of garbage orbiting our planet.


This payload is feasible in terms of cost, effort, complexity, and built-in reliability for a student team.  This is a payload that one can really see a student team designing, building, testing and operating with a high degree of confidence that the final product will succeed.
UBC Orbit is also taking on a biological payload, taking Exiguobacter and deinococcus into space. Orbit aims to engineer these bacteria with a metal reductase gene so that they can help in mining. Since the conditions in outer space are extreme, there are broad goals Orbit aims to achieve first. These goals are outlined below
  • Develop genetic technology for certain extremophiles for further research and engineering.
  • Engineer bacteria capable of withstanding extremely low pressures
  • Engineer bacteria capable of withstanding extreme radiation
  • Engineer a reporting system for engineered extremophiles

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