Nov 26, 2013 1:50 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News
Some aerospace engineering students at Cal Poly are gearing up to launch satellites into space. It's the second launch of the month for Cal Poly's designed CubeSat. A CubeSat is a mini-satellite that is revolutionizing experiments in space. The CubeSat is about 6x6x6 inches. A group of Cal Poly students and staff developed the revolutionary device about 14 years ago. Many organizations are utilizing the satellite - even NASA. The CubeSat goes into space and sends back information that can be used for research and technology. Grad student David Pignatelli is currently working on the CubeSet at the Poly Sat lab. He said, "It's just really been a great experience. Really learning, you know, the engineering process. It really puts you out there into the aerospace engineering world." Pignatelli said the CubeSat gets carried into space via a launch vehicle like a rocket. The CubeSat then gets released out of a P-Pod. Cal Poly also created the P-Pod deployment mechanism. Cal Poly Professor Jordi Puig-Suari helped created the CubeSat in 1999. Now, it's an internationally-used device. "NASA's doing experiments, the foreign universities and the universities in the U.S. are using it for student training. We're doing scientific experiments with the National Science Foundation," said Puig-Suari. The experiments on the CubeSats develop satellite technology, like that used by cellular phones and the Internet. Puig-Suari said, "We know the weather because we have satellites watching it. We understand the atmosphere because of satellites. We see what climates is doing because of satellite imagery. So, satellites play a very important role in every day life of people." Puig-Suari expressed that the CubeSat also launches things of its own- the aerospace engineering students' careers. "You may say, 'That's a very simple space craft, what is it really doing?' and it's job is not in orbit, it's job is training the students here," said Puig-Suari. Cal Poly sent up 28 CubeSats into space last Tuesday. Puig-Suari said 12 more CubeSats are set to launch aboard an Atlas V rocket with the NROL-39 primary payload from Vandenberg Air Force Base on December 5.
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