CubeSat Demo Flight Tests Technologies

CubeSats prior to sub-orbital launch 2013-06-15

A quartet of small satellites, better known as CubeSats, flew high above California’s Mojave Desert on June 15, 2013 on a demonstration mission to study the launch environment all the way from liftoff to landing.

The spacecraft are being developed to help simplify and lower the cost of small-satellite missions that could fly on smaller, dedicated rockets. Although the rocket’s parachute deployed prematurely and the vehicle tumbled to a hard landing, the flight is considered a success and a valuable learning opportunity. Teams now are retrieving their data and gearing up for another flight in the coming months.

Watch CubeSat Demo Flight Tests Technologies

Among the CubeSats was StangSat built by students from Merritt Island High School (MIHS). This pre-launch video briefly describes the CubeSats to be launched as well as the new light-weight CubeSat Deployer.  There is also an interview with Roland Coelho WH7BE.

Watch CubeSats and Launcher to Test Satellite Innovations

Small Satellites Soar in High-Altitude Demonstration

Merritt Island High School Students Build CubeSat

MIHS CubeSat on Facebook

Merritt Island High School Students Build CubeSat

MIHS students working with one of the mentors on the Feasibility of their Idea

MIHS students working with one of the mentors on the Feasibility of their Idea

Florida Today reports that for three years Merritt Island High School students have been working on building a CubeSat.

Affectionately referred to as the “StangSat” — after Merritt Island High’s nickname, the Mustangs — a handful of Merritt Island High students and their NASA mentors are adding finishing touches to a prototype that will soon be tested on a Prospector 18 rocket.

MIHS StangSat“It means so much, it’s going to be so amazing,” said Briana Luthman, 17, looking forward to seeing the satellite she helped design and build launch in the Mojave Desert. “I can’t wait.”

The high school is partnering with students at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The Cal-Poly CubeSat, dubbed CP9, is actually two cubes that contain accelerometers, plus a radio to transmit data back to Earth for the high school students to analyze. The Merritt Island High School cubesat, named StangSat, will stream data to the CP9 in real time during the launch using Wi-Fi.

“We’re going to be demonstrating that wireless transmissions inside the P-POD aren’t going to harm the launch,” said Adam Darley, a senior at Cal-Poly who is serving as the CP9 project manager. “If we can demonstrate that, then it will act as a platform to being able to stream information without a radio link.”

Watch the video and read the Florida Today story at

MIHS CubeSat on facebook

Atlas V Launches AEHF-2 Satellite For Classified U.S. Messages

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V carries a U.S. Air Force/ Lockheed Martin AEHF spacecraft to orbit. The AEHF-2 satellite will carry the most highly-classified U. S. satcom traffic. This flight marks the 30th successful Atlas V mission; the launch vehicle has a 100 percent success record. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/


The second U.S. Air Force Advanced Extreme High Frequency (AEHF) communications spacecraft was successfully launched into a super synchronous transfer orbit May 4 atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 531 rocket.

Liftoff of the 197 ft. tall 2.7 million lb. thrust vehicle from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station occurred at 2:42 p.m. EDT.

“The 13,600 lb. satellite cost $1.7 billion”,  said USAF Capt. John Francis, the AEHF project lead in charge of Operations and Sustainment. This makes it one of the most expensive military spacecraft ever launched from Cape Canaveral. The first AEHF spacecraft launched in August 2010 also cost $1.7 billion.

“The AEHF satellite series is the most sophisticated military communications system ever built and it will be a integral part of our national space security architecture,” said Steve Tatum, Lockheed-Martin’s Communications Director.

Three Aerojet solid rocket boosters along with the Russian-built RD-180 engine send out a massive plume of fury as the Atlas V 531 roars into Florida’s blue sky. Photo Credit: Jeffrey J. Soulliere


“We’re extremely pleased and excited with today’s launch,” said USAF Capt. Francis. “We have a big AEHF-2 team and it all culminated today,” he said.  It’s kind of like the Super Bowl – and we just scored the winning touchdown.”

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