CubeSat P-POD Isolation Testing

September 23, 2012

Cal Poly's CubeSat program engineers characterized the P-POD (Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer) in Cal Poly's Antenna Anechoic Chamber Lab on August 2 and 30, 2012 to quantify the P-POD's effectiveness in containing emissions from CubeSat systems. The P‑POD houses three CubeSat units and launches them into orbit around Earth.

According to the P-POD’s Interface Control Document (ICD), “The P-POD must protect the launch vehicle and other payloads from all mechanical, electrical or electromagnetic interference from the CubeSats in the event of a catastrophic CubeSat failure.” The P-POD serves as an interface between launch vehicles and CubeSats.

Current CubeSat systems must be disabled during launch to prevent interference with launch vehicle communications. Once deployed, the CubeSat must wait at least 30 minutes before transmitting. Future P-POD systems featuring electromagnetic shielding between CubeSat systems and the launch vehicle to prevent telemetry data transfer interference would allow for more complex CubeSat missions. Isolation testing in the Anechoic Chamber quantifies electromagnetic interference effectiveness. If acceptable isolation levels (TBD) are achieved, future CubeSat systems can be enabled during launch.

Test frequencies include Amateur radio bands commonly used by CubeSats in the range 200MHz to 6GHz. Collected data will be used in future P-POD design improvements.