“The most important thing for me is providing students with the opportunity to do something they would not be able to do otherwise in a field that they aspire to work in,” physics teacher and Amateur Radio Club advisor, John Earnest said.
That is why he is helping the club on a stellar undertaking: building a cube satellite. According to Earnest, a cube satellite is a ten by ten by ten centimeter satellite that is used for many different things in space.
“It has to be less than one kilogram in mass and what you do is design and build these little satellites,” he said.“If they pass the okay from NASA they’re allowed to piggy-back on other satellites,” Earnest said.
Before they sent their satellite to NASA they had a lot of work to do. There were many rules and regulations from NASA that the club had to take into consideration while creating their satellite.
“First, we had to make some plans and fill out of paperwork and decide what instruments to put on it, like a camera, thermometer, infrared camera, and a transmitter – things like that,” sophomore Owen Cruise said.
This process has been a very long haul for MC’s amature robotics club. The few other high schools who have attempted this phenomenon also spent an immense amount of time on their endeavors.
“For high schools it is extremely rare. There have only been about two,” Earnest said, “There was a high school that did this back east and it took them two years of building and then two years of waiting.”
As they get ready to launch it over our spring break, they are all finding out what will happen as it sets off into space.
“It will go to about one hundred thousand feet and then right around there the balloon will pop because of the change in air pressure,” Cruise said. “Once that happens, we have a parachute that is ready to deploy. Then it will go much faster coming down than going up, but the cameras and everything should still be able to work once it lands, we are going to be using the spot GPS to try to find it. It is predicted to land anywhere from Escondido to Palm Springs.”
Along with the club members, there are also many others involved in making this satellite and they are excited to launch it.
“Right now there are about eight or nine people [in the club] and a lot of mentors from Qualcomm and other engineering forum,” Earnest said. “They are really the ones that are driving the club and they have been a wonderful example of what engineers do for these students.”
In the club, they learn a lot from these mentors and have a lot of work to do. From every email, to each meeting, to the calculations of the potential drop sites of the cube sat., the entire team felt the thrill of the project.
“I think my favorite part is probably securing it and making sure it will be ready to go,” Cruise said.
Through this project, the members of this club, and all of the advisors and mentors, MC will go somewhere it has never gone before. As a school, we are going above and beyond the regular classes and school activities and taking our dreams to new heights. MC is ready to launch into space.