High School Students’ Satellite To Launch

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

An Air Force mission will on November 19 deliver into orbit a small satellite, dubbed TJCubeSat, which will be the first orbiting satellite designed and built by high school students. The launch will take place at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport operated at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. Students from the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., have worked on the project for several years, mentored by staff from Orbital Sciences Corporation, which provided financial support for the project and made its own testing facilities available for the project. Students around the world will be able to interact with the satellite once it is successfully placed in orbit. 

The cube-shaped satellite is less than 5 inches in length along any side and weighs about two pounds. It is carrying a device that converts strings of text to voice, which will then be transmitted by radio to Earth. Students will be able to submit text strings to the satellite and then listen for the transmissions. Delivery of the satellite will be accomplished with a Minotaur I rocket, which is specifically designed for use at U.S. spaceports. The Air Force’s involvement allows demonstration of launch and range improvements that include automated trajectory targeting. According to Orbital, the primary mission of the TJCubeSat program “is to provide educational resources” to “K-12 education institutions and foster interest in aerospace through the successful design and flight of CubeSat.” Only approved text strings will be transmitted to the satellite. Learn more about the project online, here.