What is ARLISS?
ARLISS began as a cooperative program between Professor Bob Twiggs of Stanford, his colleagues at other universities worldwide and members of AeroPac led by Pius Morizumi and Tom Rouse. The first ARLISS event was held in 1999.
Goals. The goals of the program are to provide a learning experience - both for advanced high school and college level students and for AeroPac members (fliers) as well.
For the students - they learn the complete collaborative design process to design a complex electronic and computer payload (a satellite) that will have to operate in a standard, but harsh environment. For the fliers, they learn to hone their skills of designing highly reliable and repeatable flight operations.
Key to the ARLISS program are reliable flight and support operations provided by AeroPac members.
Reliable delivery of standard payloads (CanSat and Open) to a reasonably consistent altitude (11k' AGL Black Rock). The ARLISS team takes extraordinary pride in never having lost a student payload to flight failure. A few payloads have not been successfully deployed, but none lost.
Provide the infrastructure for the event. Airframes built to deliver standard payloads to consistent altitudes. Provide motors for each launch. Provide a launch site and launch operations including FAA, BLM and other regulatory agency management. Provide basic sanitary facilities.
And more recently, AeroPac, at Bob Twiggs' request, has provided a one stop, non-profit financial support for launch fees, flight operations costs, and regulatory fees.
The program has evolved over the years. While initially focused on rather unintelligent (by today's standards) student satellites the size of soft drink can (and launched three at a time - rather like Bob Twigg's CubeSats), the program quickly moved to where the dominant payload is the Open Class of a single coffee can sized payload containing a complex satellite capable of autonomous operation with heavy use of real-time bidirectional radio communications, GPS and autonomous robotic design. The ComeBack competition of the last few years has seen some dramatic technology of remote rovers, fliers and sophisticated communications both in flight and on the ground. A second airframe using K motors has been developed to allow lower cost, more convenient flights of Classic CanSat payloads alongside of M motored Open Class flights.
The program has been overall a dramatic success and the universities involved have consistently asked for two high priority enhancements to the program: more capacity for more flights (particularly M) and Internet access so that more students can remotely participate and the quality of their robotic systems can be improved.