I’m continually amazed at how technology progresses: Where once computers were the size of warehouses, now they can be as small as spare change. Likewise, where once launching a satellite consumed a small but significant chunk of the GDP of a prosperous nation, now high school students can design a satellite and have it launched into orbit.
A satellite developed and built by about 50 students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology over the past eight years–the first ever built by high school students–is scheduled to be launched into orbit by NASA November 19, weather permitting.
The satellite, known as TJ3Sat (pronounced TJ-cube-sat), is one of 20 satellites selected by NASA as part of its CubeSat Launch Initiative, which includes cube-shaped research satellites that weigh approximately three pounds, also known as nanosatellites.
The CubeSat initiative isn’t new; people have been designing and launching very small satellites for a couple of decades now. When my husband was in grad school in the 90s his department was involved in such a launch. It just blows my mind that the technology has become accessible enough that even high school students can design a space-capable system now. Congratulations to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology students and good luck for their launch![Editor note: GeekMom Jenny sends out a special congratulations to the students at her old high school! (Class of ’91)]