Our Project: Overview
FASTRAC, the Formation Autonomy Spacecraft with Thrust, Relnav, Attitude and Crosslink, is a pair of nanosatellites developed and built by students at The University of Texas at Austin. The project is part of a program sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), whose goal is to lead the development of affordable space technology. The FASTRAC mission will investigate technologies enabling space research using satellite formations. The utilization of satellite formations in space is a pivotal advancement for the future of space exploration and research.
In January 2005, the University of Texas won a grant-based competition with 12 other universities for the opportunity to launch the FASTRAC satellites into space.
FASTRAC is the first student-developed satellite mission incorporating on-orbit real-time relative navigation, on-orbit real-time attitude determination using a single GPS antenna, and a micro-discharge plasma thruster.
The FASTRAC nanosatellite mission will demonstrate that reduced launch, hardware and integration costs are a present-day reality. The student-led team received $100,000 from AFRL for the competition portion of the project, and another $100,000 for the implementation phase.
FASTRAC is scheduled to launch in November 2010 aboard a Minotaur IV rocket launched from Kodiak Island, Alaska.