(Edmonton) University of Alberta students have put the finishing touches on the first made-in Alberta satellite and are preparing to ship the device overseas for an expected Dec. 30 launch.
A team of about 60 undergraduate and graduate students from the U of A designed and built Ex-Alta1 with support from professors, research associates and technicians in the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Science.
Ex-Alta1 is part of an international mission, called QB50, which will see 50 satellites designed and built by university teams around the world, launch a swarm of cube satellites send into orbit to study the lower thermosphere.
Collectively, the devices will provide researchers with valuable information about this part of the atmosphere, and how space weather, including events such as solar flares, interact with our atmosphere and affect satellites and ground-based electrical and electronics infrastructure.
The 50 university teams are sending their satellites to the mission co-ordinators in Europe. From there, the satellites will be shipped to the U.S. and launched aboard a cargo rocket to the International Space Station Dec. 30. Several weeks later, astronauts aboard the ISS will release the satellites.
Another key goal of the project is inspiring the next generation of space engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs.
Getting young Albertans excited about space is part of the project. The team is working closely with elementary and high-school students as part of education outreach initiative that generates more interest in aerospace technologies.
The students have even formed a company of their own, Promethean Labs, starting Alberta’s first space venture.