Northwood CubeSat helps launch second satellite into space

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Northwood’s CubeSat Club contributed to the IPSF CubeSat program that made Irvine history on Monday, Dec. 3, launching the IRVINE02 satellite from Vandenburg, California, after a year of intense preparations.

“It’s a huge task and I’m so proud of all the students and all the work that they do,” AP Computer Science teacher Ibeth Ortiz Jaime, the advisor for CubeSat, said. “I think together we figure it out and together we’re learning so much.”

Each high school in Irvine took on a specific role in the process of building the satellite. Northwood’s division, designated “Team Power,” focused on the batteries and solar panels necessary for keeping the satellite in orbit.

The satellite was launched with NASA Spaceflight on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as part of the largest rideshare mission (a launch with multiple satellites) ever from a U.S.-based launch vehicle, and students had the opportunity to watch the launch.

“It was really rewarding seeing all of our hard work pay off, and even though there are so many places that it could’ve gone wrong, seeing it lift off and seeing it launching finally into space really made all our efforts worth it,” senior Parsa Hassani said.

CubeSat was brought to Irvine high schools by Dr. Brent Freeze and Kain Sosa as a 12-year program launching a total of seven satellites. It launched its first satellite, IRVINE01, on Nov. 10.

The program gives students valuable exposure to the professional workplace, as well as more knowledge about engineering and space.

“CubeSat introduced me to a new professional setting that I wasn’t accustomed to before,” senior Ethan Hong said. “As much as we liked the engineering and the hands-on aspect, I think it was that the entire environment, nature of building the satellite, and launching that benefitted me by exposing me to that new unexplored area.”

The launch offered enlightening experiences for many of CubeSat’s members, providing inspiration for further contribution to the space and engineering industry.

“The Irvine CubeSat program has been life changing, and I felt amazed and inspired knowing that I touched and worked on something that is now in space,” senior Melinda Chiao said.  “It is reassuring to know that thousands of people want us to succeed and that we are making groundbreaking moves in the industry,”
This year, the club is working on IRVINE03 which is set to launch in 2020.

“I’m looking forward to create a well-functioning CubeSat, but also gaining hands-on experience with working with technology that is related to the aerospace industry,” sophomore Harshini Manikanda Ilango said.

CubeSat meets after school on Wednesdays from 3:30-5 p.m. If you’d like to join, keep an eye out for applications next fall.