NASA Selects Discovery Museum CubeSat Satellite for Launch
NASA has selected 24 small satellites, including one from the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, CT, to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets planned to launch in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the fourth round of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) program. “We are thrilled and honored to have been chosen for this unique opportunity as the first CubeSat from our state” said Alan Winick, Director of Education at the Discovery Museum.
CubeSats belong to a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped base satellites measure about 4 inches (10 centimeters) on each side, have a volume of about 1 quart (1 liter), and weigh less than 3 pounds (1.1 kilograms).
The main research payload onboard the Museum’s satellite will be a detector that will help characterize the amount of uncontrolled material in orbit, including both natural micrometeorites and man-made space debris. “It’s really important to understand how much stuff is in our near-Earth environment, both for future human exploration and for the preservation of orbiting satellites” says Dr. Brendan Hermalyn, the principle investigator for the detector. The satellite will relay data to ground stations, including the Mission Control Center located at the Museum.
The spacecraft itself will be built and tested through collaboration among the Museum, the University of Hawaii/NASA Astrobiology Institute, the University of Bridgeport Engineering Department, and with the support of engineers from UTC Aerospace Systems. According to Winick, “In addition to generating useful scientific data, the satellite is a big boost in the Museum’s mission to enrich STEM education by teaming up with private industry and higher education.”
The Discovery Museum CubeSat will be eligible for flight once testing and final arrangements with NASA are completed.
For more details on NASA’s CSLI program, please see http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative.html
For more information contact
Alan Winick, Director of Education at 203-372-3521, ext 114.
David Mestre, Manager of Space Science at the Discovery Museum, ext 118.