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NASA launches fleet of student-built satellites into orbit

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., Nov. 19 (UPI) -- A satellite designed, built, tested and operated by students at Saint Louis University was launched on a rocket from Virginia Tuesday, NASA said.

The students' satellite, dubbed COPPER, will test the effectiveness of a commercial infrared camera for in-space navigation and object detection, as well as observing Earth in the infrared spectrum, the university reported Tuesday.

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The mini satellite, a 2.2-pound 4-inch cube, consists of commercially available spacecraft parts and student-developed electronics.

Students in the university's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology will operate COPPER for 12 months from a radio control station on the SLU campus.

COPPER is the result of more than three years of work by more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students, with most majoring in aerospace, mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.

"Just three years ago, COPPER was an idea scribbled on a dry-erase board," faculty adviser Michael Swartwout said. "I'm thrilled that these students have converted that idea into a functioning spacecraft, and delivered it on-time to NASA for launch."

The launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island at 8:15 EST was set to put 29 small satellites from schools and NASA centers across the country into orbit, the most ever released from a single rocket.

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