Students shoot for the stars with satellite program

The Marquette Space Engineering team is hoping to raise the school to new heights in the coming years. The team, currently made up of 13 students and their adviser, Robert Bishop, dean of the College of Engineering, is hoping to launch its first satellite by 2014.

“Building a satellite isn’t an everyday occurrence, so really the objective here is to just get Marquette into space,” Bishop said. “The objective after that depends on what students really want to do.”

The team is open to all students and will be holding a meeting in Haggerty Hall room 199 on Oct. 25 for those interested in joining.

Space exploration isn’t just for engineers,” Bishop said. “It’s for all students who feel the need to explore and think that space is a great avenue for people hoping to explore. We want to inspire students to reach for a place they wouldn’t normally reach for.”

Peter Jorgensen and Eric Jonardi, both seniors in the College of Engineering, have been with the group since its inception and have since seen it grow into what it is today.

I mean, how cool is space? NASA seems to get a lot of attention,” Jorgensen said. “As a student-led group, we’re also proving that students have the capacity to take on big projects like building a satellite.”

Jorgensen did not let the fact Marquette does not have an official aerospace engineering program deter him.

“We thought it would be a great way to get into an interesting field of study, apply our engineering knowledge to a new system and learn a ton along the way,” Jorgensen said.

The team is hoping the satellite will be part of the NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, a program allowing various groups to build small satellites and have them brought into orbit as part of a rocket’s auxiliary payload.

Designing a satellite from scratch has been challenging, but we are about halfway there, and we are picking up steam,” Jonardi said. “The satellite is actually a type of satellite called a CubeSat, so named because the entire satellite is a 10-centimeter (3.9-inch) cube that weighs only one kilogram (2.2 pounds). Working within these constraints has forced us to be very creative during the design process.”

Jonardi said the first satellite’s primary payload will be a high-resolution color camera to take pictures of Earth, with which the group hopes to transmit photos back to Marquette. It also wants to attach a mirror-carrying mechanical arm to the device, allowing the satellite to take pictures of itself while in space.

“We have been very effective in shrinking everything to fit inside the satellite, so much so that there is still some space left over, so if any students have any (small) experiments in mind we would like to hear from them,” Jonardi said.

The team is hoping this will be the first of many launches.

As a team, after we launch this first satellite, we are going to build another,” Jorgensen said. “We hope to create an ongoing project for students who want to get involved in space-related activities. The next satellite will be able to do more than the first one, which will basically send pictures it takes down to Earth for us to retrieve.”

For more information on MUSE and to follow the progress of the satellite visit: http://www.facebook.com/MarquetteSatelliteTeam.

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