By Edwin L. Aguirre
– UMass Lowell’s first satellite – is now circling the Earth on its own roughly every 90 minutes while traveling at more than 17,000 miles per hour.
“The purpose of this student experiment is to demonstrate technology that hasn’t been done in such a small package,” says Physics
Prof. Supriya Chakrabarti
, director of the Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology
(LoCSST) and principal investigator for the satellite project. “The students will be sending large amounts of data from space to the ground using the CubeSat platform.”
SPACE HAUC was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Aug. 29 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral, Florida, as part of the ELaNa 37 (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) payload for SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship. This was Dragon’s 23rd commercial resupply mission for NASA, delivering thousands of pounds of new science experiments, supplies, spare parts and equipment for the space station’s crew.
Aside from SPACE HAUC, the ELaNa 37 payload also included CubeSats from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. All three were released the same day using a special CubeSat deployer made by Nanoracks, a Houston-based company contracted by NASA to package small research payloads for delivery to the International Space Station.
Groundbreaking Student Research
The SPACE HAUC mission aims to demonstrate – for the first time – the feasibility of a student-developed radio communication system at high data rates in the X band, using a phased array of 16 patch antennas on the CubeSat.
The students plan to maintain a communication link between the satellite and ground stations on the roof of Olney Science Center on North Campus and at the MIT Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts.
SPACE HAUC is expected to stay in orbit for a year or more before it gradually loses altitude and falls back to Earth. As it re-enters the atmosphere, aerodynamic stress and heating will cause the satellite to disintegrate and burn up harmlessly, high above the ground.