Both NASA’s cubesat Launch Initiative and its Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) mission seek to give college and high school students the chance to get hands-on development in satellite creation. Last night, as part of these missions, NASA launched 11 cubesats into space on a rocket from the spaceport in Wallops, VA.
Over 300 students participated in the project, including one team of satellite creators from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, VA. This is the first high school that has ever developed a cubesat for launch into space. This high school team, along with nine college teams, connected with aerospace professionals, as mentors, to help them design and create their cubesats. The ultimate payoff for completing a satellite? The chance to send it into space.
The 11 cubesats, which each measure about four-inches long and weigh a little over two pounds, launched into space last night. Over the next few months, they will collect data, which will be given to NASA, along with any scientific discoveries made by each cubesat. Each satellite was designed with particular features in mind. For example, the TJ3 Sat, created by the high school, comes with a voice synthesizing module that can take code representing words and create a voice reading of that on the satellite’s downlink frequency. The CAPE-2 cubesat, created by The University of Louisiana in Lafayette, hopes to send tweets and emails from space. Other satellites will explore space weather, study radiation during solar events and test the use of solar panels on satellites. A full list of the cubesats is on NASA’s website.
NASA hopes that enabling students with these projects will create the next generation of the aerospace industry. The winning university teams can also look forward to something else: securing funds for future projects. For the University of Mexico alone, over $1 million was recently budgeted for similar projects.