Washington (ISJ): Four student-built research satellites were launched into space from the California coast on Friday (Dec. 06). Named CubeSat, the research spacecrafts were included as auxiliary payloads abroad a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Calif, USA carrying the National Reconnaissance satellite.
The CubeSats, are a part of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ElaNa) mission by NASA. The miniature satellites deployed from their protective cases into Earth orbit about three hours after lift-off.
"This was another great moment for the ELaNa mission and the CubeSat community," said Jason Crusan, director of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Division, which oversees the CubeSat Launch Initiative. "With each successful mission, we are demonstrating that frequent access to space provides a great opportunity for NASA to gain engineering results at a low cost while affording students real-world exposure to spaceflight."
CubeSats were prepared by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and students from five universities across USA. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. It measure about 4 inches on each side, have a volume of about 1 quart and weigh less than 3 pounds. CubeSat research addresses science, exploration, technology development, education or space missions.
ELaNa missions, conducted under NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative, give students, teachers and faculty hands-on experience developing flight hardware by providing access to a low-cost avenue for research. Since its inception in 2010, the CubeSat Launch Initiative has selected more than 90 CubeSats from primarily educational and government institutions around the United States.