October 2018 News
Satellite Designed by Indiana Academy Students Set to Launch Aboard a NASA Rocket
Friday, October 19, 2018
Susie Cunningham, an Academy computer science instructor, along with a class of her students have been collaborating with a company called Near Space Launch (www.nearspacelaunch.com) on a “ThinSat” satellite project. Near Space Launch donated several of the ThinSat kits to the Academy. The satellite designed by the Academy students is only one of a few selected to have their ThinSat launch into orbit. The NG-10 mission that includes their ThinSat is scheduled to launch on November 15, 2018 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia aboard a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Update: The launch date for the ThinSat has been moved to NG-11 in the spring of 2019.
Susie and her students have been designing, building, testing, and operating the ThinSat kits since last year. Phase 1 of the ThinSat kit included components that could be used to learn about electronics and sensors, and perform small balloon flight experiments. The Phase 2 kit included an Engineering Unit of the ThinSat as a practice unit for the students to design and test their payloads. Their units, or exact replicas of them, flew on several high altitude balloon launches this past summer to perform an end-to-end test of the system. The Phase 3 Flight Units were built and integrated by Near Space Launch, using the design specifications or custom payloads delivered to them by the Academy.
Once the Academy’s ThinSat is launched and deployed into orbit from the Antares rocket, Near Space Launch will begin live streaming data over their servers, which can then be accessed by students at the Academy. They will be able to see the data from their satellite, along with data from every other school, streaming over the internet in real time. This will then allow them to perform data analysis and understanding of what is happening in orbit.
The Indiana Academy’s logo and signatures of the students involved with the project are included on the ThinSat that is set to launch aboard the NASA rocket. The launch date is subject to change, and this story will be updated if it does.