It was all systems “go!” Saturday morning at 2:47, when NASA finally launched the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) from Vanenberg Air Force Base in California.
But the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket was carrying more than just the JPSS-1 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It also included secondary payloads of five Cube Satellites (CubeSat), one of which has been seven years in the making by Prescott Embry-Riddle (ERAU) engineering students. Dubbed the EagleSat-1, its intention is to study the satellite’s orbital decay and demonstrate the use of super capacitors for power rather than traditional rechargeable batteries.
The ERAU EagleSat-1 team estimate that their CubeSat will be in orbit for 7-9 years.
NASA attempted to launch the Delta II rocket on Tuesday of this week, but it was scrubbed due to mechanical issues. On Wednesday, NASA attempted another launch, but this time excessive upper level winds interfered with the launch attempt. But, conditions were perfect Saturday morning for a successful launch.
Now the ERAU EagleSat team’s work is really just beginning, as they monitor the data received over the next several years. They will manage the operation of the mission from Prescott’s ERAU campus, and will share their scientific findings with NASA.
According to Jason Kadah, the current EagleSat team consists of Deborah Jackson, Madison Padilla, Steven Buck, Jon Lowe, Sean Akana and faculty mentor Dr. Gary Yale. About 35 Embry-Riddle Prescott students have contributed to the EagleSat-1 project over the past seven years.