NASA Launches Student CubeSats from Wallops [video]

NASA PhoneSat 2.4 – Source: NASA

It’s been a busy week for the rocket scientists. The U.S. Air Force launched its OSR3 mission aboard a Minotaur I rocket Tuesday evening from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.  In addition to the Air Force’s primary payload (boring, secret stuff), the launch carried NASA’s PhoneSat 2.4 technology demonstration. PhoneSat is a CubeSat (a small 4″ cube nano-satellite) that uses off-the-shelf smartphone technology. The idea is to create small, cheap, but very capable satellites. That’s pretty cool!

High school students building satellites? Yep.

The mission also includes student designed CubeSats from nine universities and one high school. This is the first time NASA has selected a high school CubeSat for launch. Fifty students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology of Alexandria, Va. worked for seven years to get their CubeSat (TJ3Sat) off the ground.

TJ3Sat is a nifty little project. It will receive text messages transmitted by amateur radio operators, convert them to speech with an onboard Text-To-Speech module and transmit the spoken word back to earth. Properly equipped amateur radio stations can also receive telemetry from the TJ3Sat. Best of all, it’s open to the public! The kids have set up a request form to have your requested text string sent to TJ3Sat. If you’re a ham radio geek, the TJ3Sat website has everything documented so you can Make Contact. The stuff kids do these days… Sheesh!

Links to help you feed your insatiable desire for learning:

Official TJ3Sat website with documentation and contact info
NASA’s PhoneSat 2.4 page

And of course the launch video from beautiful Wallops Island, Virginia

AeroSavvy is written by Ken Hoke. Since 1984, Ken has loitered the skies in many vehicles, most notably the classic Douglas DC-8. He currently frustrates air traffic controllers in the US, Asia, and Europe as a Boeing 767 captain for a package express airline.
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