Orbital Prepares to Launch Satellite Built by High School Students

cubesat high school orbital sciences

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s TJ³Sat. Photo: TJHSST

[Via Satellite 11-15-13] Orbital Sciences will launch a satellite designed and built by high school students aboard a Minotaur 1 rocket next week. The small satellite, known as TJCubeSat (TJ³Sat), will be launched aboard the U.S. Air Force’s Ors 3 mission as one of more than two dozen secondary payloads. The mission is scheduled to take place from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. The launch is currently scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, at approximately 7:30 p.m. (EST).

The TJ³Sat is a small-size cubesat developed, built and tested by students from the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. Over the past several years, volunteers from Orbital’s technical staff mentored the student team and provided engineering oversight, while the company made its space testing facilities available and provided financial support for the satellite project. TJ³Sat was assigned to the Ors 3 mission launch through NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program based on launch manifest availability.

The cube-shaped satellite measures approximately 3.9×3.9×4.5 inches (10x10x12 centimeters) and has a mass of about 2.0 pounds (0.89 kilograms). The TJ³Sat’s payload is a phonetic voice synthesizer that converts strings of text to voice. Once converted, the voice is transmitted back to Earth over amateur radio frequencies. Students from around the world can submit text strings to be uploaded to the satellite for transmission. The satellite’s design and operations data is public, enabling students from other countries to use it freely.

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