University of Hawaii students set to launch satellite

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Sep 03 2013 04:53:00 PM HST

After a long project, University of Hawaii students are weeks away from launching a satellite they built from scratch.

HONOLULU -

A group of University of Hawaii students is weeks away from launching their own satellite.

"It's been a long journey," said systems engineer Nick Fisher.

Cradled in his hands is four years of hard work by dozens of University of Hawaii students.

The satellite, about the size of a loaf of bread, is called a cube or nano satellite.

"I think the best way to describe it is really just relief.  Three, four years of work and we're finally going to be able to launch this thing into space," said project manager Larry Martin.

Its mission is to calibrate military radar stations around the globe like the X-Band, the massive golf-ball-looking facility at Pearl Harbor.

NASA's RADCAL satellite used to do the calibrations, but it has since died.

The students will deliver their cube satellite to a launch vehicle in New Mexico next week. It will then join a handful of other student-made projects strapped to a Russian rocket.

"It's like a Jack in the Box. It has a spring in the bottom, opens up, and the satellite springs out of an outer casing," said Fisher.

The entire endeavor is part of a NASA program in which students have to build satellites that fit into a container called a P-Pod. Other student-built projects include imaging satellites and data-collectors.

Fisher, who plans to join a start up company after college, will escort their satellite to Albuquerque. Martin knows its just one more step to securing a great future.

"I think the industry, government, all those companies with job opportunities, are really starting to take notice, that students are getting involved in projects like this. It's setting the bar higher, but that's a good thing," Martin said.

That Russian rocket is set to launch in November.

Fisher said once it's launched and operating, students will have plenty of work to do calibrating radar stations, analyzing information, and networking with recruiters.

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