Overview

The CubeSat Laboratory at Vermont Technical College (VTC) is a collection of students, faculty, and staff building CubeSat technology spacecraft.

While CubeSats are being constructed by many groups around the world, both inside and outside of academia, what makes our work different is that we use the SPARK/Ada programming language for our software needs. As compared to the more commonly used C language, Ada makes it much easier to write correct, robust software. SPARK adds the ability to create mathematical proofs (with the aid of tools) showing freedom from certain classes of runtime errors and other correctness properties. Our BasicLEO CubeSat, launched in November 2013 is the first CubeSat programmed with Ada and the first spacecraft of any kind programmed with SPARK.

This is the official web site for VTC's CubeSat Laboratory providing information about all our missions, both in the past and ongoing. See the Flying Sparks blog for up to the minute information about our current work. To contact us, see the "People" section below.

This web site was designed, created, and is maintained by VTC students and faculty.

Papers and Presentations

News Coverage

  • Ada the Language: Alive and in Flight (2016-10-10). This blog post on the Hackbright Academy site gives a brief discussion of Ada and references both our BasicLEO and Lunar IceCube projects.
  • The Herald of Randolph (2015-12-03). This article in the local Randolph, Vermont paper describes the end of our BasicLEO mission.
  • WCAX (2015-11-29). A story about the end of our BasicLEO mission with comments about our upcoming IceCube collaboration.
  • BusinessWire (2015-07-14). This article is an announcement from AdaCore about the use of SPARK on the IceCube project.
  • The Herald of Randolph (2015-07-09). This article appeared in the local Randolph, Vermont paper about the IceCube project.
  • Discovery News (2015-06-29). This is a general article about interplanetary CubeSats but our work is mentioned just below the picture of Jupiter.
  • FOX News (2014-11-20). This piece is about the BasicLEO launch.
  • WCAX (2013-11-21). This piece is about the BasicLEO launch.
  • Vermont Public Radio (2013-11-21). This piece is about the BasicLEO launch.
  • The Herald of Randolph (2013-11-21). This article in the local Randolph, Vermont paper is about the BasicLEO launch.
  • My Champlain Valley (2013-11-20). This piece is about the BasicLEO launch.
  • Vermont Business Magazine (2013-11-20). This piece is about the BasicLEO launch.
  • WCAX (2013-11-20). This piece is about the BasicLEO launch.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education (2013-11-20). This piece is about the BasicLEO launch.

People

  • Dr. Carl Brandon, Principal Investigator.
    Dr. Brandon is a professor of physics at Vermont Technical College (VTC). He oversees and administers the project and does whatever else needs doing.

  • Dr. Peter Chapin, Software Director.
    Dr. Chapin is a professor of computer information systems at VTC. He oversees and contributes to the software development done on the project, working especially with the high integrity software tool chain used.

  • Jonathan Broadfoot (May 2016 –), Software Engineering student.
    Mr. Broadfoot is working on Lunar IceCube.

  • Christopher Farnsworth (May 2016 –), Software Engineering (MSSE) student.
    Mr. Farnsworth is working on Lunar IceCube.

  • Emily Friedman (Oct 2016 –), Student intern from Essex High School.
    Ms. Friedman is learning about spacecraft software development.

  • Niels Huisman (Jan 2015 –), Electromechanical Engineering Technology student.
    Mr. Huisman is working on Lunar IceCube.

  • Sean Klink (Sep 2016 –), Software Engineering (MSSE) student>.
    Mr. Klink is working on Lunar IceCube.

  • Scott McGrath (Nov 2013 –), Communications.
    Mr. McGrath is a VTC alumnus who has been invaluable analyzing flight software and assisting with communications.

  • William McGrath (Nov 2012 –), Communications.
    Mr. McGrath is a VTC alumnus who has been providing up and down link communications services to our basic low Earth orbiting CubeSat while we construct our own ground station. He is the president and CTO of LEDdynamics.

Past Students, Faculty, and Staff


  • Jeremy Audet (May 2011 – Aug 2011).
    Mr. Audet worked on the preliminary version of the flight control software for our BasicLEO orbiting satellite, with an emphasis on hardware interfacing.

  • India Beauregard.
    Ms. Beauregard worked on the inertial measurement unit for our BasicLEO satellite.

  • Al Corkery (Sep 2010 – May 2011).
    Mr. Corkery worked on GPS interfacing for our BasicLEO satellite.

  • Jordan Hodge (Sep 2010 – May 2011).
    Mr. Hodge worked on our ground station.

  • Nicole Hurley (Jan 2015 – May 2016), Software Engineering student.
    Ms. Hurley worked on CubedOS and also did website development.

  • Chad Loseby (Sep 2008 – May 2009).
    Mr. Loseby focused on the integration of and communications between the software and the hardware in the Alaskan Ice project.

  • Jordan Lyford (Sep 2010 – May 2011).
    Mr. Lyford worked on our ground station.

  • Colin Myers (Sep 2012 – May 2013).
    Mr. Meyers worked on the flight control software for our BasicLEO satellite.

  • Oliver Piluski (Nov 2012 – Nov 2013).
    Mr. Piluski is a VTC alumnus who has assisted with the construction of our BasicLEO satellite. He is an employee of LEDdyanmics, Inc.

  • Wilson Schreiber (Sep 2010 – May 2011).
    Mr. Schreiber worked on our ground station.

  • Dan Turner (May 2012 – Jan 2015).
    Mr. Turner worked on the flight and ground control software of our BasicLEO satellite.

  • Matthew Ward (May 2011 – Aug 2011).
    Mr. Ward worked on the preliminary version of the flight control software for our BasicLEO satellite, with an emphasis on SPARK development.

  • Michael White (Sep 2008 – May 2009).
    Mr. White worked on the circuitry involved in connecting sensors to the system as well as other hardware concerns in the Alaskan Ice project.

  • Carl Wolf (Sep 2012 – May 2013).
    Mr. Wolf is a professor of mechanical engineering at VTC. He worked on the solid model for our BasicLEO satellite.

Acknowledgments

Our work is supported by grants from the Vermont Space Grant Consortium, a part of the NASA Space Grant program, NASA, and EPSCoR. Vermont Technical College has also received generous donations of commercial software from AdaCore, SofCheck, Altran, and Rowley Associates.

Software to analyze orbits of our spacecraft has been supplied as a generous donation from AGI of their Systems Tool Kit.