Jacky Ko


Aurora Flight Sciences

In 2013, the summer of my senior year in high school, I won a fellowship award from the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). As part of the fellowship, I worked at Aurora Flight Sciences where I was introduced to SolidWorks and BOM management. I had many great mentors during the internship that taught me how to differentiate good CAD from bad CAD, problem solve, and how to use more tools in the machine shop. During this time, I had a chance to work on a variety of projects for Aurora, NASA and DARPA. The material below is non-specific and only contains work that can be found online due to ITAR and proprietary restrictions.

MotherCube (DARPA)

The project removes the size, weight and power (SWaP) limitations of traditional larger satellites using a cluster of CubeSats, U-class spacecraft, while keeping the costs to a minimum.

I was tasked to update a 3D model of the MotherCube for use in AGI STK in order to analyze the orbits of the CubeSat cluster in order to optimize signal coverage while minimizing the amount of propellant used. The SolidWorks model can be seen to the right. I designed the orbit of the clusters by altering the eccentricity and longitude of ascending node of the orbit path. I then used a Long Vertical/Long Horizontal (LVLH) reference frame to design a series of constraints that would keep the orbiting satellites in an equilateral triangular position.

The GPS antennas of the satlet changed throughout the design process due to the need for an increasingly powerful patch antenna to get the results that we wanted. This resulted in changes in the body of the satlet. I set clearances on these holes and created mounting brackets that were both easy to manufacture and effective.

As part of the project, I also researched and compiled a list of the different CubeSats in operation along with various specifications such as the mission of the CubeSat, the payload, size, and mass.

Phoenix Phase I (DARPA)

Phoenix was a program that focused on geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) collection of old satellite parts and the reuse of the components for new satellites. Aurora’s focus on the project was leveraging satlets in a modular approach to accomplish various space missions. My two responsibilities for the project were developing a method to calculate magnetic bias and writing technical spec sheets for the project.

Magnetometers in satellites are critical in attitude determination which is used to calculate aerodynamic forces. The components in the satlet produce a magnetic bias that changes the “true” reading of the magnetic field. I devised an approach where the satlet positioned itself into different orientations and recorded its magnetic reading. Then using these readings and an equation that I developed, the magnetic bias was determined which could then be subtracted from subsequent readings to obtain the “true” magnetic field reading. The measurements were done through MATLAB.


Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) is a modular system used to test various sensors and actuators in the International Space Station. NASA required new SPHERES, but students at MIT had previously built all of the models on student versions of the program. The whole SPHERES assembly had to be redesigned and the bill of materials (BOMs) had to be updated accordingly.

I assisted in the process by checking over BOMs of over 1,500 assemblies and parts. I also created a solution to a time consuming part of the process. For BOM management, PTC ProENGINEER data had to be converted into excel tables for organization. The native exporting process wasn’t compatible with Excel so I invented a macro that processed the exported .txt file instead of manual entry. This cut down input time by 9 hours, reducing the time to about 3 minutes.

Skate SUAS

Skate is a small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) for aerial surveillance. The SKATE group required a dock for their field tests, one that was cheaply made from spare parts in the company’s machine shop. I set out to create the dock with aluminum 8020, a material that is both lightweight and strong. This would allow it to be easily transportable without any fear of damage during transportation. The power strip was added to allow multiple SKATE systems to charge. The edges of the plates were sanded down with an orbital sander to avoid sharp edges. The completed rig is shown at the top of the page.

My second assignment for the SKATE group was to assemble a testing rig, shown to the left. This rig would test motors used to control the SKATE aircraft. One of the major design considerations was cable management which was done through color coding and zip tie bundling.