The International Space Station launched a cube satellite into orbit this morning that was built by SJSU students in partnership with NASA Ames.
About four-inch-cubed in size and 2.6 pounds, the satellite — or TechEdSat – is the first of its kind, according to SJSU aerospace engineering alumna Ali Guarneros Luna.
“The SJSU team is one-of-its-kind in this field,” said Guarneros Luna, mission manager of the team of 12 SJSU students and nine NASA Ames scientists who designed and built the cube satellite.
“We are the first ones and only ones that know how to do it in all NASA agency-wide.”
She added that she’s a systems engineer for NASA Ames Research Center, a NASA satellite facility in Mountain View involved in small spacecraft, supercomputer and astrobiology research.
Luna said the team started building and testing the cube satellite in October 2011.
According to Guarneros Luna, the team worked on the satellite at NASA Ames and at TechShop in San Jose, which is a membership-based workshop with machinery, tools and equipment available.
“A record by all standards,” said Periklis Papadopoulos, co-principle investigator and SJSU adviser for the project.
According to Papadopoulos, four other cube satellites are on board the International Space Station — three are from Japan and one is from Vietnam.
John Hines, an SJSU aerospace and engineering mentor and NASA Ames chief technologist, said he chose SJSU students to build the satellite because he wanted to give them the opportunity to build spaceflight hardware.
“I’ve been interested in demonstrating that we could bring and train a next generation workforce,” he said. “… Demonstrate the first deployment of nanosats from (the International Space Station) and done using a university project team.”
Guarneros Luna said she gained experience on building and launching hardware for NASA and the International Space Station and learned to avoid hazards as well as how to get through certification processes.
“We had technical difficulties on the development, testing and certification of it,” she said. “However, we (proved) that it can be done right to the NASA standards.”
According Papadopoulos, the satellite was deployed to the International Space Station from Japan last July and was launched today into low Earth orbit for a communications experiment.
Specifically, the satellite’s mission is to evaluate Space Plug-and-Play Avionics designed in Sweden by ÅAC Microtec, according to the TechEdSat team .
Space Plug-and-Play Avionics is similar to USB technology for space components, according to Hines.
Hines said the satellite will be in orbit for ten to 30 days before it descends and burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere.