By: Madison Padilla
Chief Copy Editor
After nearly seven years of hard work, the student researchers of EagleSat-1 have finally gotten to see their work launched into orbit.
Launched on the Delta 2 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base, EagleSat-1 was a part of a secondary payload which included four other cubesats.
The cubesats were launched after the primary payload, JPSS-1.
Students and faculty were eager to see Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s first cubesat launch, as on the first attempt many gathered at the Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium for the initial showing.
Despite the launch delays, the cubesat finally got to see flight at 2:47 a.m. on Nov. 18, 2017.
With a projected orbital decay of seven to nine years, EagleSat-1 was designed to have two onboard experiments.
The first being an attempt to measure the orbital decay of the satellite over time by means of using GPS; this is hoped to measure how accurate the current orbital propagations are, as smaller objects are more difficult to accurately model over longer periods of time.
The second experiment is factored in to the cubesat’s power subsystem.
Instead of using batteries, EagleSat-1 relies on supercapacitors for its power, with the reasoning being that supercapacitors are more durable than batteries due to their ability to charge and discharge large quantities quickly.
Once EagleSat-1 was released into orbit, the student researchers at the time went to work in trying to contact it.
These researchers included Project Manager Deborah Jackson, Systems Lead Sean Akana, Flight Operations Lead Madison Padilla, Communications Lead Steven Buck, and Power System Lead Jon Lowe.
The advisor for this project since its fruition has been Dr. Gary Yale.
Over the period of a few days the student lead group worked on getting in contact with the cubesat, as the first passes did not yield anything.
The group connected with the other four cubesat teams to ensure that the pass data was correct, as the cubesats were clustered near each other and would have similar ground tracks.
Along with that, local ham radio operators had been also listening for any signal from EagleSat-1 to no avail.
Despite this, the team is hopeful for a connection.
They have continued their efforts towards remedying any possible ground issues and have discussed what may have gone wrong with the cubesat itself.
Project Manager Jackson had this to say, “Many first projects are not successful. We were able to be launch ready, but unfortunately we are not able to connect with it currently.
However, as long as we learn and understand what may have gone wrong, we are successful.”
With that, the launch of the EagleSat-1 was still a tremendous step forward for Embry-Riddle’s cubesat program.
It serves as a starting point for its successor, EagleSat-II, to build off and learn from as well as understanding the risks with building a cubesat.
While the school still eagerly awaits a sound from EagleSat-1, the opportunities the project gave to dozens of students makes it all worthwhile.