Northwest Nazarene University’s MakerSat team received data from Idaho’s first satellite, MakerSat-0, just hours after it was launched into space aboard a Delta II rocket on Saturday, November 18 at 2:47 a.m. MST. A CubeSat designed by students at NNU and Caldwell High School, MakerSat-0 carries electronics that, for the first time in history, collect real-time data on the robustness of various 3D-printed polymers in the harsh space environment and measure space radiation levels in the polar auroras.
"Oh my gosh, it's so amazing to see something that you've held, something that you've designed, and to think that it's orbiting around the earth, and to see it give you data back and it actually means something," says electrical engineering student Connor Nogales. "It's a really surreal feeling."
MakerSat-0 will orbit around the earth’s poles 14 times a day at 17,000 mph for the next several years, sending research data to the student team’s smartphones. This data will help determine the best materials for future 3D printed spacecraft—including NNU’s upcoming MakerSat-1, the first satellite to be made in space. MakerSat-1 will be 3D printed, assembled and deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2018.
“This team of NNU engineering students has been tirelessly dedicated to seeing the MakerSat missions come to reality over the past three years,” said Dr. Stephen Parke, NNU engineering professor and faculty lead. “I am so proud of them. We want to thank all our industry and funding partners for helping us get MakerSat-0 into space. We are truly thankful to the Lord, our Maker, for blessing us with this opportunity to do ground-breaking science and technology here at NNU for the benefit of the world.”
This project was made possible through funding by Idaho Space Grant Consortium and partnerships with Made in Space, Near Space Launch, NASA, NanoRacks, and Plexus. MakerSat-0 is one of five CubeSats chosen for NASA’s ELaNa XIV mission on this launch, which was enabled by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. Vanderbilt University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Embry-Riddle University and DSTG Australia are the other institutions that had CubeSats on this launch.
“NNU has a long tradition of undergraduate research in science, over 60 years of faculty working with students to solve real world problems,” commented Dr. Daniel Nogales, dean of NNU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The culmination of this research by our engineering faculty and students will launch the way for small satellite research and space exploration.”