Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

You may have heard that NASA launched the latest Mars probe yesterday… you probably didn’t hear that a single rocket just launched over 20 payloads tonight, representing our future.  The Department of Defense flew an Orbital Sciences Corp. Minotaur I with a primary payload, and many smaller secondaries- I can’t even keep track of them all.  Shall we try roll?

-The primary payload is STPSat-3, with DoD, NASA, and NOAA experiments.  A minisatellite, it’s built on an older, larger form factor

Underneath STPSat-3 were mounted two “wafers,” structural discs containing ejectors for the following CubeSats:

Black Knight-1: CubeSat built entirely by West Point

CAPE-2: CubeSat built by University of Louisiana-Lafayette and nearby schools

ChargerSat-1: University of Alabama-Huntsville test of advanced CubeSats

COPPER: St. Louis University experimental instrument

DragonSat-1: Component demonstration from Drexel University

Firefly: NASA lightning-measurement CubeSat

Ho’oponopono-2: University of Hawaii experiment to track satellites by radar

Horus: DoD experiment to track satellites and space junk by telescope

KySat-2: Demonstrator from University of Kentucky/Morehead University

MMA Design DragNET: Field tests of satellite reentry, for space junk prevention

NPS-SCAT: Navy test of new solar cells

ORSES: DoD field test of a micro-communications satellite

ORS Tech 1: DoD demonstrator for advanced CubeSats

PhoneSat 2.4: NASA test of inexpensive, smartphone-based CubeSat

Prometheus: Demonstrator for advanced CubeSats, from the Department of Energy

SENSE-SV 1 and 2: DoD experiments to record space weather (i. e., radiation)

SwampSat: University of Florida-Gainesville test of advanced CubeSat parts

TJ3Sat: CubeSat built by Thomas Jefferson High School– yes, High School

Trailblazer: University of New Mexico field test of multiple technologies

Vermont Lunar CubeSat: Field test of navigation for future CubeSat Moon probe

There are still more payloads:

AFSS test: Field test of self-destruct system, will remain attached to launcher

-The entire mission is a field test of expedient integration and operations

And of course, the mission is yet another opportunity to expand hands-on flight experience to our next generation of engineers.  Even if, somehow, every single payload fails, hundreds or even thousands of young builders will be released into the economy with firsthand knowledge of complex integration and high-stakes project execution.  This includes high schoolers.  There will be a future in space, regardless of whether it’s what you or I or anyone imagined.  These students will imagine their own versions, then duke it out.


4 thoughts on “Rah Rah BLASTOFF!!!

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