Zero-G Drone Project

Making microgravity attainable to all

Overview

Free-fall environments on the Earth are achieved by means of drop towers and parabolic flights. Those facilities are scarce and their maintenance and operations are expensive. The miniaturization of instrumentation along with the cost reduction of drone technology present a unique opportunity for the development of affordable and easily used microgravity facilities for small experiments. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop, design, build and test a system to create a zero-g environment by using a pre-existing unmanned aircraft (drone).

There are two main justifications for our project:

  • Microgravity for universities and space agencies: to ease the access to microgravity by offering a lower cost option.
  • Education and research: to allow students to get a deeper understanding of microgravity environments.

Progress

  • collaboration with the ESAC Trainee Programme 100%
  • feasibility study 0%
  • market research study 30%
  • legislative study 0%
  • CFD simulation 0%
  • test and validation planning 0%

Members

Being in charge of the project organisation has allowed me to acquire some experience when managing meetings and working with people. Moreover, due to the preliminary character of the project I’m learning a lot about facing problems and defining constraints, requirements, objectives, etc. Moreover, it is also very interesting to collaborate with ESAC and to work on a project with such a potential.

Alejandro José Valverde

Team coordinator - Aerospace Engineer

Telecom Engineer, and an aerospace field lover. Working at DHV Technology, designing and implementing solar panels for satellites, and collaborating with Tech For Space as the electronic responsible of the Drone Project. Everything related with new-technologies, are my passion, such as 3D printing, one of my latest hobbies.

Victor Burgos González

Telecommunications Engineer

Members

I’m a Spanish-Argentinian Aeronautical Engineer. I’m currently working in the space sector in Toulouse, France.

Alejo Ares Abalde

Aerospace Engineer

Hardware engineer at Tech For Space and Telecom student. My interests are electronics and space. I have experience designing and building systems for CubeSats, 3D printing and Robots. Motivated fan of teamwork.

Pedro Manuel Vallejo

Telecommunications Engineer

Aerospace Engineering student in Bristol, I am specialised in Aerodynamics and Flight and design of Aerospace Structures. Passionate about sports and anything that flies! I’m also a lover of challenges such as the Zero-G Drone project.

David Cordova

Aerospace Engineer

Partner

esa

ESAC Traineeship

This project runs in parallel to a 6 month trineeship ‘Zero-G drone: feasibility study of a microgravity facility based on drones’ of the 2017 ESAC Trainee Programme of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Trainee selection process

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Day-to-day

Well, let’s start this agenda! I expect it to be clear and original in some way. Our goal is to show our daily work, not only the one related to engineering, but also how we make decisions and discuss among us.

02/04/2017 – M05

This afternoon’s meeting has been mainly about the current status of the project some weeks before the beginning  of the traineeship and the configuration of the TFS team: both components and tasks.

We will work on the testing and validation planning of the control algorithm developed by the trainee at ESAC. Despite the fact that we could potentially work on some other tasks, at the moment we’d rather focus on this one to succesfully acomplish it.

In future meetings we will discuss the procedures to test these control algorithms and how to apply them to the project, see you there!

During this meeting we discussed some of the work done by the different engineers in the team towards the tests and validation of the drone. Taking an overall look to the different types of test that might need to be done in the future in order to validate our system.

We discussed different types of tests done that would need to be completed during and at the end of the development of the design. From testing and validation of the control algorithm to the stress analysis and flight performance of the drone.

Finally, we conclude the meeting by deciding to narrow the types of tests and validation of the drone to purely the control algorithm but keeping in mind the potential work to do towards other types of tests in order to ensure the quality of our design.

10/04/2017 – M06
03/05/2017 – M07

This time, we shared news about the partnership with ESAC, we discuss about the future tasks of the project and we take a look at some new findings regarding the tests for the drone.

Also, it seems like the project will foster a new member. He will be in charge of the study of drone regulations and rules to fly them.

Hi everyone! We are all here again. This time we miss the president of the association, Ramón Gómez, who has not been able to attend. However we are proud to present you a new member of the team:

GORKA POPOFF

He is a half Spanish half Belgian law student, currently carrying out his studies in England. Of course, he is going to help us with the legal aspects of the project, something we lacked of until now. For more info about Gorka, check his profile above 😉

After this great new, let’s move on to the technical part. It seems the traineeship with ESAC will finally begin, so we have already started to prepare the kick off meeting that will take place next week, the 25th! Organization, aerodynamics, legal aspects, software and hardware testing…there are plenty of topics to discuss and we have to clarify them. Hence, we have agreed to create a document which will include the most important questions before the meeting…there’s no time to waste!

20/05/2017 – M08
23/05/2017 – M09

In the last meeting of the Zero-G drone project, we were preparing the questions and comments to be discussed in the first meeting with ESAC, the new internship student and HEMAV, a drones company which is going to help us with some hardware parts.
Moreover, we were reviewing the points that TFS is going to work with ESAC and discussing some laws and contractual issues about drones and their regulation.