Project SunbYte is a student-led project in collaboration with other universities and industry partners: Northumbria University, Queen's University of Belfast, University of Hull, Andor and Alternative Photonics. Our goal is to deliver a low-cost, high resolution method of imaging the sun in the upper atmosphere where atmospheric distortion is minimised. This will hopefully allow us to see the sun's spirals and prominences, thus giving us more insight into the solar flares that threaten our satellite telecommunication and navigation systems. To do this, we are designing and building a two-axis gimbal to be integrated with a solar telescope and actuation system with sun-tracking software. The experiment will be on board the BEXUS balloon as part of the REXUS/BEXUS programme.
On the 30 May we arrived at the Erasmus MML at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) to give our presentation for the CDR. We began with the presentation which lasted 20 minutes, followed by a 40-minute question and answer session assessing our progress. Another way that SunbYte has prepared me for SELA, is in terms of my management skills. As with most engineering projects, there is a great deal of work to be put in leading up to the final design. A good management plan and effective team dynamic is absolutely integral to success. For instance, when planning schedules and assigning task leads, conducting psychometric tests such as the Belbin test to help gauge the way different people behave in a team, and acting accordingly with the results. The purpose of milestones such as the CDR is to make sure we maintain this, and if not, the REXUS/BEXUS programme is after all, a learning process.
Throughout my time in SunbYte, I have been able to develop those attributes that are valued by SELA. I was first involved with the project through planning and coordinating the project's outreach activities. These were important in terms of gaining funding to support our experiment, as well as fulfilling a tertiary objective of the project -- encouraging more people into space engineering studies. It was easy to see the value in presenting a compelling image of our vision as a team. The day before our review, we met with Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE), where I was able to witness this ability to inspire first-hand. DARE is one of Europe's most successful student rocket societies based at the Delft University of Technology. They showed us around the Dreamhall, their manufacturing-oriented workshop, which included letting us see a life-size model of Stratos II+ (famous for setting the European altitude record for a student-built rocket at 21.5km). Coincidentally, Stratos I was launched from Kiruna in Sweden, where our experiment is to be launched in October, assuming all goes well.