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Launch forth

$200,000 for engineering students to build, launch and operate satellite


By Jackey Locke

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), a team of engineering students will design and build their own satellite.

The four-year project was announced today at an event hosted by the University of Manitoba.

CSA astronaut Jenni Sidey unveiled the teams selected to participate, including Memorial University.

The CSA-led project, called the Canadian CubeSat Project, offers students from post-secondary institutions from each province and territory to take part in a real space mission by designing, building, launching and operating their own CubeSat, a breadbox-sized satellite.

An example of the CubeSat satellite.
Photo: NASA

Once the CubeSats are ready, there will be an opportunity to launch it into space from the International Space Station in 2020-21.

International collaboration

Memorial is one of 15 university teams, composed of 37 organizations, chosen to participate in the CSA project.

Thanks to several inter-regional, inter-provincial and international collaborations, 29 Canadian institutions and eight institutions from Australia, Belgium, France, Norway, Portugal, Russia and the U.S. are participating.

Teams will operate their satellites and conduct scientific experiments and/or validation of their technology development from space according to the objectives of their respective missions, which could last up to 12 months.

“This will be the very first Earth observation satellite built in this province.” — Desmond Power

Students will gain science and engineering expertise from building a satellite destined for space, as well as valuable expertise in project management, leadership and communications.

Dr. Weimin Huang, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Memorial, and Desmond Power, vice-president, remote sensing, C-CORE, are the principle investigators of the project. Memorial has teamed up with C-CORE on the project to draw from their extensive experience in space systems development.

From left are Desmond Power and Dr. Weimin Huang.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“We appreciate the funding support from the CSA in developing our miniaturized satellite, which will measure sea-ice parameters from space,” said Dr. Huang.

“This unique project will not only augment the remote sensing capacity at Memorial University through training a significant number of highly qualified personnel, but will also strengthen our ties with existing partners and build new national and international collaborative relationships with industry and academia.”

“This will be the very first Earth observation satellite built in this province,” said Mr. Power. “Newfoundland and Labrador has a long history in remote sensing and aerospace development, and this new CubeSat project will hopefully help to convince young engineers that there is a bright future in aerospace systems in this province.”

The CubeSat project at Memorial also includes a partnership with C-CORE and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s Industrial Outreach Office.

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